Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Did Jessica M. Garrison Pay A Modest $30,000 For A Mountain Brook House Valued At $400,000?

Jessica Garrison's house
in Mountain Brook.
The former campaign manager for Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange knew she was going to be living at a foreclosed house in Mountain Brook before the property was sold, public documents show. Records also show the house sold for $30,000, even though it is appraised at more than $400,000.

Jessica Medeiros Garrison, who has engaged in a long-running extramarital affair with Strange, lives at 119 Main Street, in the Crestline section of Birmingham's most exclusive suburb. The house has 2,213 square feet and has an appraised value of  $439,900, in part because it is zoned for the most prestigious school district in Alabama.

Property records show the sale of the house was completed "by public outcry" on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse in July 2012. But a document from Garrison's divorce/child custody case, dated May 23, 2012, shows that Garrison already had an address of 119 Main Street, Mountain Brook, Alabama. (See property and court documents at the end of this post.) Andther document from custody case shows Garrison had made arrangements to live in Crestline as early as 2011.

How did Garrison have the Mountain Brook address in May 2012, when the house was not sold until July 2012? We tried to ask Garrison that question, and others related to the real-estate transaction, but our query was met two days later with a letter from attorney Bill Baxley, threatening a defamation lawsuit.

That leaves the impression that the home purchase is a mighty sensitive subject, for some reason. We know that Garrison's ability to move into that particular home was crucial in the custody case that grew out of her divorce from Lee Garrison, the recently elected chair of the Tuscaloosa City School Board.

Jessica Garrison initially had taken a job on Luther Strange's staff and was going to move with her son, Michael, to Montgomery. But when Lee Garrison challenged the move in court, Jessica Garrison gave up her job with the AG's office and began work with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), while also serving in an "of counsel" role with the Birmingham law firm Balch and Bingham.

Under the Alabama Relocation Act, the custodial parent does not need consent of the non-custodial parent if a move is within 60 miles of the non-custodial residence. According to court records, the home on Main Street is less than 60 miles, barely, from Lee Garrison's home in Tuscaloosa--and that allowed Jessica Garrison to maintain primary custody.

Property records show that Robert C. and Hilary J. Maxwell were the previous owners of the Crestline house, and they bought it on June 27, 2007. Default was made on the indebtedness, and a foreclosure sale was held on July 20, 2012, with Jessica Garrison declared the highest bidder in the amount of $30,000.

Why was Jessica Garrison bidding on the Crestline house in July--a house that supposedly was open to bids from other citizens--when she knew in May that her address was set at the Crestline residence? More importantly, how did Garrison pay $30,000 for a house that is appraised at more than 10 times that sum?

Again, we tried to pose such questions to Jessica Garrison, but we were met with a threatening letter from her attorney. There might be reasonable answers to these questions, but we can't figure out what they are--and neither can a knowledgeable real-estate source we consulted on the matter.

For the record, here is the exact language in the Mortgage Foreclosure Deed, dated July 20, 2012:

WHEREAS, Burt W. Newsome was the Auctioneer who conducted said foreclosure sale for the said Renasant Bank, and
WHEREAS, Jessica Medeiros Garrison was the highest bidder in the amount of Thirty Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($30,000), which sum of money Renasant Bank offered to apply to the costs of foreclosure and then to the remaining balance on the indebtedness secured by said mortgage, and said property was thereupon sold to Jessica Medeiros Garrison.
NOW, THEREFORE IN CONSIDERATION OF THE PREMISES, and the amount of Thirty Thousand and 00/100 Dollars ($30,000) the said Robert C. Maxwell and Hilary J. Maxwell and Renasant Bank by and through Burt W. Newsome, the person acting as auctioneer and conducting said sale as their duly authorized agent and Attorney-in-Fact and Auctioneer does hereby GRANT, BARGAIN, SELL AND CONVEY unto the said Jessica Medeiros Garrison AS IS, WHERE IS, the following described property in Jefferson County, Alabama . . .

How do you apparently buy a house in the Crestline section of Mountain Brook for only $30,000? A lot of people in Alabama would like to be in on that secret.

We will continue to research this matter, and perhaps we will come up with an explanation that makes sense. But then we still have this question: How did Jessica Garrison know her new address in May 2012 (maybe even summer of 2011) when the property was not sold at public auction, subject to open bidding, until July 2012?

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