Friday, October 15, 2010

The Human Side of the Forclosure Crises - The Houston Texas Story

Next week I will be focusing on the current foreclosure fraud in an effort to demonstrate the underlying mortgage fraud that the major banks are only just beginning to understand is behind the foreclosure abuses in the market. Before moving to a clinical approach however, I think it is imperative that we understand the type of people that knowingly seize family homes without any proper authority.

The following link is representative of exactly what happens when a real estate agent, motivated by profit, improperly seizes a home. Whether or not their actions are proper, once the agent labels the home owners with the “foreclosure tag,” their rights in the eyes of the authorities evaporate. The home owners become the people that “lost their house,” “were foreclosed on,” “didn’t pay their note,” or any number of other identifiers through which their ability to defend their property is literally removed.

The Houston, Texas, case demonstrates how far police and other authorities are willing to go without questioning real estate agents or their actions. Their use of the word "foreclosure" seems to be the only authority needed. When the home owner showed documents demonstrating the real estate agent as wrong, he was promptly arrested under suspicion of creating forged or fraudulent documents. The unfortunate reality is that once labeled with the “foreclosure” tag there is little that the home owner can offer in their defense on which authorities will act. The Supreme Court delt with this exact issue, point for point, in the landmark case SOLDAL v. COOK COUNTY, 506 U.S. 56 (1992).

In Soldal, Terrace Properties forcibly evicted the Soldal family and their mobile home from a Terrace Properties' mobile home park. Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff's Department deputies were present at the eviction. Although they knew that there was no eviction order and that Terrace Properties' actions were illegal, the deputies refused to take Mr. Soldal's complaint for criminal trespass or otherwise interfere with the eviction. Petitioners brought an action in the Federal District Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that Terrace Properties had conspired with the deputy sheriffs to unreasonably seize and remove their home in violation of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. After making its way through the appellate courts, the Supreme Court issued the following decision.

“The complaint here alleges that respondents, acting under color of state law, dispossessed the Soldals of their trailer home by physically tearing it from its foundation and towing it to another lot. Taking these allegations as true, this was no "garden variety" landlord-tenant or commercial dispute. The facts alleged suffice to constitute a "seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, for they plainly implicate the interests protected by that provision. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is, accordingly, reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

The case itself is fascinating reading. The Court uses the illegal eviction to define the Fourth Amendment in a context that affects each and every one of us every time we lock our doors at night. Soldal is directly on point with The Houston case and demonstrates how any show of defense of property displayed by the home owner results in his arrest. The home owner in the Houston case eventually demonstrates the fraud in civil court, but not before being arrested for trespass, loosing his home, having his cars, business inventory and personal property seized by the police and real estate agent – none of which was ever recovered.

What the Houston article also demonstrates is the length to which the officers involved will go in order to avoid their part and responsibility. Fortunately, each and every action taken by the authorities in this matter simply serves to toll the statutes under which the victims in this matter will eventually file in civil court.

As disturbing as this case is, it is far from isolated. Next week’s article will touch on many of the players as we explore mortgage fraud as the bases for the current foreclosure crisis.

1 comment:

  1. I know about this house. 915 Knox Street #D. This is the house that is built several feet over onto the neighbor's land and Shad Bogany never disclosed the encroachment. Probably used an old survey to close. The house is also ate-up with termites. Not that any of that matters because the buyer is just a straw buyer and Shad Bogany just stuck some renters in the house.