Recently discovered evidence suggests the answer is yes. Recently conducted research even more strongly suggests the answer is yes. (More on that in an upcoming post.) If our conclusions from discoveries and research of recent days proves true, it points directly toward wrongful foreclosure -- and Riley is a defendant in our pending federal lawsuit on that subject (and more), a matter we call "The House Case." Riley also is a defendant in a pending federal lawsuit about my unlawful incarceration, in "The Jail Case." It now is starting to appear that the theft of my freedom, and the theft of our house, are connected -- with Riley at the center of both.
That would not be a surprising result, given overwhelming evidence that he was at the heart of costing us our jobs -- me at UAB and Carol at Infinity Insurance. We timely paid on our home for 23-plus years, and only ran into a crunch after both of us were cheated out of our jobs. Chase Mortgage had granted us a forbearance to work out the payment issues, and we were moving toward resolution, when I was arrested -- beaten and doused with pepper spray inside my own home and stashed in the Shelby County Jail for five months. By the time of my release on March 26, 2014, our house already had been declared in default, and any realistic chance to save our house had been lost.
What is a wrongful foreclosure, and why does it matter? We addressed that question in a July 2015 post, and here is the key Alabama law on the subject:
My primary focus, at the moment, is on an element of wrongful-foreclosure law that is perhaps best stated in a case styled Reeves Cedarhurst Development v. First American Federal Savings and Loan 607 So. 2d 180 (Ala. Sup. Ct., 1992). From the Reeves Cedarhurst decision:
"A mortgagor has a wrongful foreclosure action whenever a mortgagee uses the power of sale given under a mortgage for a purpose other than to secure the debt owed by the mortgagor. Johnson v. Shirley, 539 So.2d 165, 168 (Ala.1989); Paint Rock Properties v. Shewmake, 393 So.2d 982, 984 (Ala.1981)."
Under Alabama law, a wrongful foreclosure action is not limited to the mortgagee (Chase Mortgage, in our case). A case styled In re Sharpe, 391 B.R. 117 (Bankr.N.D.Ala. 2008), holds the following as factors to consider as elements of a wrongful foreclosure claim under Alabama law:
Whether (1) the actions of the mortgagee were either outside the boundaries of the foreclosure or taken for some purpose other than to secure the debt owed by the mortgagor; (2) the actions of the mortgagee were for some ulterior motive; (3) the power of sale was perverted or used for the mortgagee's or someone else's purpose; or (4) the mortgagee had an ill motive.
At its heart, a wrongful foreclosure involves an ulterior motive. Even if you are behind on your mortgage payments, and we were, you are entitled to have any foreclosure proceedings driven only by the attempt to collect a debt. If Rob Riley and others caused the proceedings to launch because they wanted to shut down my blog and run Carol and me out of state, -- or for some other improper reason -- that becomes a wrongful foreclosure.
The evidence noted above has been in our possession for some time, but I only recently discovered it. In the wake of our foreclosure in Birmingham, plus an unlawful eviction from our apartment here in Springfield, Missouri, most of our mortgage-related papers have been scattered to the winds. But we still had a few in digital files, and I recently stumbled upon them.
Here is some of what they help tell us: My reporting on the relationship between Liberty Duke and Rob Riley started with two posts in January 2013, two posts in February 2013, and one post in May 2013. The May post might have been particularly sensitive because it went beyond Riley and Duke to touch on Duke's relationship with State Sen. Gerald Dial and a pharmaceutical company called Medimmune. From that post:
Liberty Duke, of Clanton, is a lobbyist for Maryland-based MedImmune, which manufactures a drug called palivizumab (brand name Synagis). State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) introduced a bill in the 2013 legislative session that would boost use of Synagis in an effort to reduce the state's infant-mortality rate.
The proposed legislation, styled Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), is controversial because a number of medical professionals in the state have said it actually could harm infants. The Anniston Star added another layer of controversy when it reported in January that Dial had received a $500 donation from MedImmune in October 2010.
As for Liberty Duke, the Alabama Ethics Commission lists her as a registered lobbyist for MedImmune -- and sources tell Legal Schnauzer that she has developed a close working relationship with Sen. Dial.
Did my reporting become troublesome when it threatened to hamper the flow of dollars to and from Big Pharma? It seems likely, even very likely.
For good measure, I added three more posts in July 2013 about the Riley/Duke relationship. Where did our house issues enter the picture? In a letter dated June 24, 2013, the Huntsville law firm of Stephens Millirons, specifically attorney Robert Wermuth, said Chase Mortgage had referred our loan to them for foreclosure. (Copy of June 24, 2013, letter is embedded at the end of this post.)
The bottom line? The process to foreclose on our house started in late June 2013, in the middle of our reporting on Riley and Duke. In fact, it was very close in time to the filing of the Riley and Duke defamation lawsuit. We don't have a copy of that complaint -- partly because we never were lawfully served with one, and a lawyer who reviewed the file said no summonses, calling us to court, had been filed. We do have a copy of the Motion to Seal, dated July 23, 2013, which we believe was filed on or about the same date as the complaint. (Motion to Seal is embedded at the end of this post.)
This all points to my arrest and our foreclosure being connected, with Rob Riley being at the center of both. In an upcoming post, we will provide more evidence that drives home that point even further.