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Reese Witherspoon Has The BEST Sense Of Humor! She Recreated Mindy …

Good for you, Chels!

It’s no secret that Chelsea Handler has had issues with Instagram‘s policies regarding female nudity in the past.

She’s already had two different pics removed by the social media company for breaking the rules, and it looks like things aren’t changing anytime soon!

[ Photos: Chelsea Handler Recreates Kim K's Infamous Paper Spread! ]

That’s because Chelsea added the above topless pics to her IG on Friday and they’ve already been deleted… most likely by Instagram itself.

Luckily for all of her fans, though, Chelsea was kind enough to post the pics to her Twitter as well, who are much more lax about the whole women having boobs thing.

Ch-ch-check out Chelsea’s topless pics (below)!!!

[Image via Chelsea Handler/Twitter]

Article source:

Real estate investment turns sour

Q. In 2010, two friends and I bought five housing units, signed a mortgage and created a sub-Chapter S corporation as the borrower. Because our corporation had no assets, the bank requested and we signed personal guarantees.

Our due diligence was poorly done. In 2014, the value of these units is only one-third of what we owe on the mortgage. Two of us are now retired and would like to be rid of the personal cash drain caused by repairs and vacancies. What would you suggest we do?

A. About all I can offer is sympathy. It’s often difficult for people to cut their losses. There’s just something that makes it hard to bite the bullet and accept that not all investments make money. That’s why folks sometimes hold on to losing stocks they really should get rid of.

The only way to stop that cash drain may be to sell, each of you contributing extra money to pay off the rest of the mortgage. At least you’ll have capital losses to deduct on your income tax returns.

Q. Recently you had an answer to the question of how much a parent can give with the gift of a home to a son without any tax owing. Unfortunately, I lost your answer — I hope you can answer again.

A. You individually could give your son $14,000 worth of the property every year with no gift tax due. If you’re married, you and your husband together could give him $28,000 worth. If he’s married, the two of you could give the two of them $56,000 this year — but you’d better hurry. To give him part ownership, have a professional arrange the paperwork. Then next year you could make the same amount of tax free gift(s) again. Depending on the value of the property, that would sooner or later take care of the whole transfer.

Or you could give your son the whole of the property immediately. You’d have to file a gift tax return, but no actual tax would be due. The extra amount, beyond one year’s $14,000 tax-free gift(s), would come off what you could leave tax-free at your death. That’s a pretty big amount, so it wouldn’t matter for most of us.

Hope this helps. You’ll understand it better if you talk your particular situation over with a CPA or a lawyer.

Q. We purchased two-week timeshare in Florida (in Pompano Beach) some 30 years ago, and we’ve tried to get rid of it without success. We even offered some money with no success. Is there a way we can get rid of it? What do you have to suggest? We live in Canada and wish to get rid of the timeshare that is very costly and that we do not use anymore.

A. I assume there’s no mortgage on the timeshare, and I assume you’ve asked the management if they’d take it back? You might try next asking the president of the homeowners association for suggestions.

After that, consult your own lawyer about what’s liable to happen if you simply stop paying management fees, property tax or whatever else is billed. Often there are no real consequences. I suspect that’s particularly likely as you live not only out of the state, but also out of the country.

Q. Just a couple of thoughts for the person who wrote asking about a seller-financed land contract. That arrangement can be good if it works out, but the owners should be extra diligent to write in a clause that protects them so they don’t lose anything if the deal doesn’t go through. I’ve had it happen three times, generally because tenant/buyers depend on what might happen in the future, and we all know life is what happens while you’re expecting other things.

Owner financing might seem great with little downside, but when the economy goes south, like it did a few years ago, chances are real good that the buyer’s finances won’t hold up. There’s a reason why they can’t go to the bank and get a loan. If the sale goes through as an owner finance and they can’t make payments, there’s a very complicated legal system with lots of requirements to get them out and take the property back. If the buyer used the property to take out another loan, that becomes a debt that remains with the property except with a formal foreclosure, which takes months and several thousand dollars. Just wanted to help out others who might think it’s easy and simple.

A. The original question asked about pros and cons — it looks like you’ve given us plenty of cons.

• Edith Lank will respond to questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14620 (include a stamped return envelope), or readers may email her through

© 2014, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Article source:

Area foreclosures falling, still above pre-recession levels

With one month left to record, 2014 appears on track to have the fewest foreclosed Calhoun County homes in five years, but the figures are still above pre-recession levels.

Since the 2007 start of the Great Recession, Calhoun County and much of the U.S. have struggled with high numbers of foreclosures, which depressed home prices. However, a significant drop in foreclosures this year has helped the local housing market improve, industry experts say. Meanwhile, even without December numbers, county home sales this year are higher than in all of 2013 — another indication of the local housing market’s recovery.

The Calhoun County Probate Office has recorded 276 foreclosures as of November this year. If this year’s monthly trends stay true, after December the county will have fewer foreclosures than the 326 recorded last year.

The last time the county had so few foreclosures was 295 in 2009, two years into the recession. This year’s foreclosures are still considerably higher than pre-recession levels, about 200 per year in 2005 and 2006.

Still, the drop in foreclosures this year is progress, said David Dethrage, a broker with Home Realty Company in Oxford, which deals with many foreclosed homes.

“Sure, the foreclosure level is down from the height of the crisis,” Dethrage said. “We are pulling out of that … I think overall, the market is unwinding all of these properties.”

Dethrage said the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program has helped more residents in danger of foreclosure keep their homes now than in previous years. Dethrage said recent changes to the program have allowed more people to use it and refinance their homes.

“Today, there is very little reason to allow a home to go into foreclosure,” Dethrage said.

Shad Williams, president and CEO of Cheaha Bank, said his bank has dealt with far fewer foreclosures this year.

“The wave of foreclosures we had during the recession have already come and gone,” Williams said. “We feel like we’re already back to normal times.”

Everett King of ERA King Real Estate said he thinks this year’s drop in foreclosures is part of a steady trend of decline.

“I think we’ll continue to see foreclosures decline and almost go away until we get into that normal foreclosure rate,” King said.

Inversely, as foreclosures have declined, home sales and prices have improved.

According to the Alabama Center for Real Estate, 1,139 homes were sold in the county as of November this year. That’s already more than the 1,095 homes sold in all of 2013.

Also, the average home price for this year so far is $118,679, higher than the $117,043 average price for all of 2013.

“I think this year, which was a pretty good year, we’ll be up 15 percent in sales by the end of it,” King said.

Williams said he thinks more residents have found meaningful employment since the height of the recession, which has helped more of them obtain loans and buy homes.

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, the county’s unemployment rate in November was 6 percent — lower than the 6.5 percent rate it had in November last year.

Dethrage said the job market is a key factor in the strength of the housing market.

“The best reflection of the real estate market is the job market,” Dethrage said. “If foreclosures are still high, then we’ll have high levels of unemployment.”


Article source:

Regional Population Gains; List of Largest Banks; Agency Foreclosure Waiting …

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s statistics on population, between
July 1st, 2013 and July 1st, 2014 an average of 803 new residents were added each day in Florida and it passed New York to become the third most populous state.
Florida’s population has reached almost 20 million whereas the
population of New York is 19.7 million. California is still ranked as
the most populous state at almost 39 million residents followed by Texas
with 27 million. Georgia’s population has also exceeded 10 million for
the first time, landing the eighth spot on the list. North Dakota was
the fastest growing state followed by Nevada and Texas compared to six
states that lost population, including New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont.
Overall, in 2014 the total U.S. population increased by 2.4 million to
319 million.


Certain areas are attracting more growth than others. As the housing
industry attempts to attract young adults and promote home buying among
millennials, the young adults who are interested in homeownership are
more inclined to buy in certain areas, according to an article
published by Zillow. It used data from the Minnesota Population Center
to take a closer look at homeownership rates amongst working-age
emerging adults. The majority of these adults have been most successful at buying homes in the Midwest and South,
with the least amount of young adults buying in expensive coastal
metros, particularly in California. Conversely, the young adults who
don’t own a home and don’t pay rent mainly reside in Southern Texas,
Eastern Pennsylvania and Riverside, CA. Finally, the areas with the
largest generational homeownership gap between millennials and baby
boomers include New England and California, while the smallest gap can
be found in the South and West, as well as Las Vegas, NV, Fresno, CA and
Oklahoma City, OK.


Zelman and Associates November Mortgage Originator Survey predicts a re-accelerating housing market with low rates and lax credit standards.
With improvements to the GSEs’ rep and warrant policies and the CFPB’s
curing abilities, more lenders will look to reduce overlays which will
benefit borrowers in the coming months. The survey identified that 52%
of lenders expect underwriting standards to ease over the next year and
none expect credit standards to tighten. With the new integrated
disclosures taking affect in August of 2015, most lenders are prepared
for the change and the new disclosures should not adversely impact
underwriting standards. November purchase applications increased 4% YoY
and refinance applications were down 10% YoY. The analysis reported that
the credit quality index dropped to 67.5 from 68.9 a year earlier, with
32% of third quarter securitized loans below 700 credit score and the
average GSE credit score dropped to 754 from 759 a year before,
reflective of credit standards beginning to ease.


While we’re speaking about macro issues, Comerica writes, “Despite
the expected GDP reset, we observe strong momentum in the U.S. economy
at year end. Labor markets continue to improve. A robust 321,000 payroll
jobs were added in November. Hours worked increased, and so did wages.
The combination of more workers, working longer hours, for higher wages
provides a powerful boost to the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate for
November held steady at 5.8 percent, but is set to resume its decline
through early 2015. Auto sales have roared back.
The 17.2 million unit sales rate of November cannot be sustained
indefinitely, but it provides strong evidence that U.S. consumers are in
a better mood this holiday shopping season. “That got me thinking…which is a good thing, otherwise I’d spend my time watching videos
of squirrels running obstacle courses…how are auto sales doing? The
answer is an easy one as sales in November haven’t been this robust
since 2001; up nearly 5% from a year earlier with five of the top six
automakers selling more cars and trucks than analysts expected,
compliments of a surging economy, heavy discounting and falling fuel
prices luring consumers into U.S. showrooms. Case-in-point, according to
the Wall Street Journal, luxury SUVs are up 17% YoY, and with the recent talk of SISA and NINA loans I’d swear it was 2004 all over again.


Wednesday’s commentary mentioned that Congress unanimously voted to extend a provision of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
until January 2016, which “prohibits foreclosing on a Servicemembers
house for one year after returning from active duty.” Josh Kotin with BuckleySander LLP writes, “The SCRA does not prohibit foreclosures on property owned by servicemembers.  Instead,
it requires that a foreclosure be pursuant to court order so a court is
in position to provide any protections to the servicemember that may be
appropriate.” Thanks Josh!


SNL Financial’s financial analysis found the top 4 largest US banks
and thrifts by total assets in order as of Q3 were JPMorgan ($2.5T),
Bank of America ($2.1T), Citigroup ($1.9T) and Wells Fargo ($1.6T). This
group adds up to a whopping $8.2 trillion in assets. Rounding out the
top 10 list are: US Bank ($391B), Bank of New York Mellon ($386B), PNC
Financial ($334B), Capital One ($300B), HSBC North America ($280B) and
State Street ($275B). This group adds up to about $2.0T. Finally, banks
ranked 11 to 20 add up to $1.6T and include: TD, BBT, SunTrust,
American Express, Ally, Charles Schwab, MT, Fifth Third, Citizens
Financial and USAA. How many of these have well-known mortgage operations?
Meanwhile regulators have increased the asset size threshold used to
define a small bank for CRA purposes as one that as of Dec 31 of either
of the prior 2Ys has assets of $1.22B. And an intermediate small bank is
defined as a bank with at least $305mm in assets but less than $1.22B
for the same period.


latest Fed report finds loans at US banks grew to $7.87 trillion, an
annualized 8.2% in Nov vs. 6.8% in Q3. Meanwhile, deposits increased by
an annualized 10.4% vs. 5.7% in Q3. The Fed reported loans and leases at
the 25 largest banks increased 5.6% annualized in Nov vs. 7.6% for the
rest of the industry. Most of the loan growth was in CI (+13.6%),
while CRE was flat.


pace of bank closings, fortunately, dropped dramatically from 2014 –
but last Friday regulators closed Northern Star Bank ($19mm, MN) and
sold it to BankVista ($135mm, MN) under a PA agreement. BankVista
received 2 branches as well as all of the deposits (at a 1.06% premium)
and essentially all of the assets. And merger and acquisitions continued to be announced this week.
Weymouth Bank ($212mm, MA) will acquire Equitable Co-operative Bank
($106mm, MA). Cornerstone Bank ($1.3B, NE) will acquire North Loup
Valley Bank ($20mm, NE). As part of its move to streamline operations
Citibank will sell its Peru subsidiary with 8 branches and 130k
customers to Bank of Nova Scotia for an undisclosed sum.


Wednesday the commentary noted some information regarding the USDA eligible areas. Bill Scammell from PMAC
reminded me that, “USDA Announcement (posted 12-22-14):  President
Barack Obama signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing
Appropriations Act of 2015 (omnibus spending bill) into law last
Tuesday.  With the signing of this Act and barring further congressional
action, the USDA will implement the eligibility maps on February 2nd,
2015.  The changes will be those already published on the ‘Future
Eligible Areas’ maps posted on the USDA eligibility website (USDA Future Eligible Maps).  A complete package for conditional commitment must be submitted to the USDA on or before Feb 2nd, 2015 in order to fall under the current eligible areas.  Packages that are submitted to USDA after Feb 2nd will be subject to the new ‘Future Eligible Areas’.” Thanks Bill! 


Dale Delliquadri, an Account Executive for Mountain West Financial has provided the waiting periods for Fannie, Freddie, VA, USDA and FHA loans after a foreclosure or bankruptcy
For Fannie Mae products, if you have foreclosed on a loan, the waiting
period is 7 years from the completion date and 3 years for extenuating
circumstances (90% LTV). For a short sale or deed-in-lieu the waiting
period is 4 years and for Chapter 7 bankruptcy the waiting requirement
is 4 years from the discharge or dismissal date and 2 years for
extenuating circumstances. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there is a 2-year
waiting period from the discharge date, a 4-year waiting period from the
dismissal date and a 2-year waiting period for extenuating
circumstances. With Freddie Mac and LP Super Conforming loan products,
the waiting period after a foreclosure is 7 years from the completion
date, and for a short sale or deed-in-lieu the waiting period is 2-4
years. If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the waiting period is
4 years from the discharge or dismissal date and if you have filed for
Chapter 13 bankruptcy the waiting period is 2 years from the discharge
date and 4 years from the dismissal date. FHA loans are the most
forgiving when it comes to derogatory credit events.


information went on. The waiting period after a foreclosure is 3 years
and for a short sale or deed-in-lieu the waiting period can be anywhere
from 0-3 years from the completion date. If you have filed for Chapter 7
bankruptcy, the waiting period is 2 years and if you have filed for
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one year of the prepayment period has to lapse in
order to qualify. For VA loan products, the waiting period after a
foreclosure, short sale or deed-in-lieu and Chapter 7 bankruptcy is 2
years for a loan less than $417,000 and 7 years for a loan greater than
$417,000. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the waiting
period is 7 years for a loan amount greater than $417,000, but it’s
mandatory to finish making all payments prior to qualifying. Finally for
USDA loans, the waiting period after a foreclosure, short sale or
deed-in-lieu and Chapter 7 bankruptcy is 3 years and one year of
repayment has to occur for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.


Let’s keep playing catch up on lender and investor updates over the last several weeks.


Franklin American Mortgage Company
has posted its Correspondent National Bulletin 2014-34 which includes
various Product and Guideline Updates, Clarifications and Reminders.


Kinecta Federal Credit Union
is now offering an additional option for Mortgage Insurance (MI). You
will be able to choose a MGIC MI plan for all new submissions in the New
Loan Submission form.


NewLeaf Wholesale
has updated its Lock Renegotiation Policy on Conforming/High
Balance/FHA and VA Products. In the event the market has significantly
improved since the date of the lock, each loan is eligible for
renegotiation subject to specific requirements.


New Penn Financial
is offering free webinars for its new Home Key product. This product is
a market leading option for borrowers looking for a fresh start who
have suffered a mortgage credit event such as bankruptcy, foreclosure,
or short sale just after one year. You can find out all the information
by following the link for Home Key Overview and Webinar Registrations.


Plaza Home Mortgage’s Elite Jumbo Program Guidelines have been updated for loans locked on or after November 25, 2014. Please refer to the Program Guidelines for complete details.


United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM)
announced that it rolled out a new product called Investor Edge, which
is designed specifically for borrowers that are looking to purchase or
refinance non-owner occupied investment properties. Interested parties
can learn more about UWM’s Investor Edge program by visiting its website.


briefly to the markets, Wednesday we learned that US Jobless Claims
dropped 9k to 280k, a seven-week low. The 4-week moving average was
290,250, a decrease of 8,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average
of 298,750. We had a 2.26% close on the 10-yr Wednesday and this morning
we’re sitting at…2.26% and agency MBS prices are roughly unchanged.
There is no scheduled news, not much exciting happened overnight, and no
company is expecting much in the way of locks.

Article source:

Biomass foreclosure sale set

Buyers sought to recover back taxes

SOUTH POINT — The six parcels that make up what was once the Biomass property adjacent to The Point industrial park in South Point go on the auction block on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

In October Lawrence County Common Pleas Court granted a motion for a default judgment on Biomass for its failure to pay the county approximately $50,000 in back taxes, allowing the county to foreclose on the property.

Since November of 2013, county prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson and county treasurer Stephen Burcham have sought payment from Biomass

“I am encouraged it is continuing to move forward,” Burcham said. “It is going to be beneficial to the children, particularly of the South Point district, which will see the majority of the taxes collected. I think everyone should be a good corporate citizen and pay their taxes. I appreciate the prosecuting attorney in bringing this to collection.”

The sale will be done separately for the six parcels. The largest parcel was 49.02 acres with a minimum bid of $42,443.79, according to the judgment filed. That is made up of $41,649.07 in taxes with $48.90 in court costs.

The next largest parcel is for 23.69 acres with the current minimum bid at $4,865.63. That is followed by 4.5 acres at $2,159.15; .35 acre lot at $844.63; .33 acre lot at $2,342.40; and .23 acre at $893.25.

Those minimums will actually be more, however, because they do not include interest on back taxes and taxes for 2014. That will be calculated later.

In July of 2014, Biomass owner Mark Harris contacted Burcham to say he only received notice that the taxes were due 10 days earlier. Burcham then gave Harris 90 days to pay the amount in full. He did not.

Biomass had purchased the property to develop a 200-megawatt power plant. That plant would produce electricity that Biomass would sell to power companies.

The acreage is contiguous to The Point, the fast-growing industrial park in the eastern end of the county and was originally part of the former Honeywell-Allied Chemical plant site.

Ironton entrepreneur Robert Slagel said it would be advantageous for The Point to acquire the acreage.

“To free it up and out of Harris’ hand and be able to do something with it,” Slagel said. “He has been sitting on it. It has been a thorn in the side of Lawrence County’s economic development.”

Acquiring it would be the decision of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, which is having its annual meeting at 8 a.m. the day of the sale.

“The issue is how much it would cost to clean the site up to where we didn’t have liability on it,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the LEDC, said. “The LEDC will assess the environmental standing of it and who else would be interested in coming in to create jobs. If there is a company going after it to create jobs, we will help them. We are pleased there is some resolution on this parcel of property. It is unfortunate it has sat dormant for years.”

Terms for the sale will be the same as a sheriff sale where successful bidders must put 10 percent down with 30 days to make final payment.

“This shows everybody has to pay their fair share of taxes whether they’re a company or an individual,” Anderson said. “The ultimate goal is to get a new taxpayer. In this instance one that not only creates jobs for the county but also pays their taxes.”

The sale starts at 11 a.m. on the first floor of the courthouse.

Article source:

The Morning Risk Report: Alstom Shows Corruption is No Deal Breaker

How dangerous is it to buy a company with a storied history of corruption around the world? This week’s settlement with Alstom SA for its globetrotting bribery schemes appears to provide a comforting answer for corporate counsels: Not very, as long as you’re sure the company’s sins are in its past.

Article source:

Minnesota man lands job with Hendrick Motorsports –

PIKE LAKE, Minn. — Chais Eliason was among the throng of fans pressing up against the glass that separated them from the Hendrick Motorsports team during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway in January 2011.

He peered into the garage area and took photos of NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

“I was thinking, ‘How cool would this be?’ ” said Eliason, who lives just outside of Duluth, Minn., in Pike Lake. “All I had was glass between me and what I really wanted to do.”

Little did Eliason know that just 18 months later he would be working on the other side of that glass as an intern for Hendrick Motorsports, and on Thursday — Christmas Day — he was to drive to Charlotte, N.C., to begin working full time for the most successful team in NASCAR.

“I still can’t believe it, either,” he said. “It’s crazy to me. Even when I interned out there — being in victory lane, being part of champagne celebrations, getting those victory rings — it just seems so surreal to me.”

Eliason, 24, graduated Saturday with a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech. He starts work with Hendrick Motorsports on Jan. 5. He will be the third engineer on Johnson’s team, working as a “right-hand man” to renowned crew chief Chad Knaus.

On race day, Eliason will keep track of a racing database. If Knaus makes a change on the car during a pit stop, Eliason will input the information into a computer.

The engineers keep track of adjustments and communicate directly via radio with Knaus, who communicates with Johnson and the rest of the pit crew.

“The engineers are constantly going back and forth with Chad, and then he tells the mechanics and the crew what he wants to do,” Eliason said. “Sometimes it is seconds before the car comes in. It’ll be ‘four tires, four tires,’ and then the car will come in, ‘No, two, two, two! Go, go, go!’ He’ll call an audible based on what everybody else is taking because you want to get out first. It’s high tension. There are a million things going on, but I love it. I’m so excited to get back there.”


From about the time he could lug a lug nut, Eliason was spending time at the family business, Lakehead Clutch and Brake in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Eliason would clean and sweep. Years later, he was rebuilding clutches and taking apart brake shoes.

Grandfather Harry Eliason, who turned 74 on Tuesday, is retired but still visits the shop.

“I got to watch my grandpa, and that has inspired me more than anything else,” Eliason said. “He is the hardest worker in the world — and has the kindest heart. He is very strong in his faith.”


Harry Eliason and his brother John used to build engines for their brothers Jim and Gordy to race on the local dirt-track scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Chais Eliason’s uncles, Troy Eliason and the late Todd Eliason, raced in the 1980s and early 1990s. Chais’ father, Tim Eliason, served as a crew chief.

Chais Eliason grew up going to the races and loved NASCAR, with his room adorned in Gordon’s signature No. 24. Eliason began pitting for local stalwart Darrell Nelson in 2002, when he was just 12.

Eliason mostly cleaned the race cars, scraping mud off after races, but he wanted to do more.

Nelson recalled a big fight he had with Eliason at Chippewa Falls, Wis., when Eliason wanted to grind the race tires but Nelson wouldn’t let him.

“He was too little; he was tiny,” Nelson said. “He had little bird arms back then, and that could have ripped his arms off. I didn’t want him to get hurt. But when someone has his heart and mind set on it, you weren’t going to change it.”

Another time, Eliason was camping in Hinckley, Minn., with his parents but wanted to go racing. Tim and Ann Eliason finally relented, and Nelson picked him up, letting him sit on the console of his Chevy half-ton truck en route to the next race. Nelson could tell Eliason had had a bad day. Chais’ face was pink and puffy.

“You could tell that he had been crying for hours because he wanted to go racing,” Nelson said. ”He finally got what he wanted. I’ll never forget it.”


Eliason wound up pitting for Nelson for nearly 10 years. He later raced a Midwest Modified for two years but knew his future wasn’t behind the wheel.

“It is hard to make a living as a driver,” Eliason said. “You see some racers, their house is in foreclosure, they’re going bankrupt, but they’ve got a new race car every year. You think, ‘Man, those people are crazy,’ but I probably did some of the same things, spending money going to the pits every single night, whether I had it or not, but (driving’s) not what I want.”

Eliason already got the sense that if he wanted to pursue NASCAR, he’d have to bolster his resume.

“I couldn’t be an average Joe,” he said.

Eliason’s first taste of professional racing came as a senior at Proctor High School when he worked for Archer Racing Accessories in Duluth, traveling across the U.S. with the Dodge Viper race team. He later worked for Solon Springs, Wis., driver Brady Smith on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Tim Eliason recalled a Proctor Journal article where Chais was “senior of the week” and that “he wanted to work in NASCAR.”

“Yeah you, and everybody else,” Tim Eliason said. “People at school probably gave him raspberries about that, but guess what? He is.”

Chais Eliason graduated with honors from Proctor in 2009 before attending Michigan Tech. It was a rude awakening. Eliason went from a 3.9 grade-point average to a 2.5 his first semester at Tech. For the first time he started second-guessing himself, wondering if he should move back home and questioning if engineering was the right career path.

“In high school I never had to study, and most of my homework was done in class,” he said. “I got to college thinking I could do the same thing. That was a wakeup call. At the end of the day, that was the best thing that ever happened to me, because if you can persevere, you can push forward.”

Eliason didn’t earn anything less than a B again and had a 4.0 his final semester. In the meantime, he landed internships with General Motors and Toyota, setting him up for a dream 15-month internship with Hendrick Motorsports that started in May 2012. He is the first Tech student to intern at Hendrick, with NASCAR usually relying on students from schools such as Virginia Tech and North Carolina-Charlotte.

“I was finally living my dream,” Eliason said. “I often had to pinch myself walking into the entrance at Hendrick Motorsports.”

Eliason received rings as Johnson won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, as well as one for Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th Sprint Cup win. Johnson won the 2013 championship, and Hendrick flew Eliason to Las Vegas to celebrate with the team.

“I don’t know if Chais realizes just how big this is,” Nelson said. “It’s crazy. That is a lifetime dream for a lot of people.”

The Eliasons purchased a motor home so they can travel to as many NASCAR races as possible.

Tim Eliason remembers a conversation with his wife many years ago, when Chais’ NASCAR dream was taking hold. They didn’t want him to be heartbroken. Chais never heard it, or if he had, he wasn’t listening.

“Chais always had that goal in front of him, so this doesn’t surprise me,” Tim Eliason said. “He always reached for the stars. Now he is being rewarded for it. I love my job, I like what I do, but how many people can say they’re living their passion? I’d never discourage his pursuit of that.”

Eliason would not say what he is making now, only that it is a good living. He could make more money with other teams, but Hendrick was his first love. He hopes his story of perseverance and determination, of dreaming big and following through with it, serves as an inspiration to others.

“You can’t put a price tag on this,” Eliason said. “At the end of the day, that’s not really what my dream was about.”

Article source:

In the Bronx, a Cowboy Pianist

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Northern California Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging and …

WASHINGTON—A Northern California real estate investor pleaded guilty for his role in bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Charles Rock was indicted on Dec. 3, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, California. The indictment alleged that Charles Rock and others agreed not to compete at public foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County, California, and diverted money to themselves that should have gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries. Charles Rock pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging and two counts of mail fraud.

To date, 51 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California. In addition, 21 real estate investors, including Charles Rock, have been charged in five multi-count indictments for their roles in bid-rigging and fraud schemes at foreclosure auctions in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that as early as June 2008 until about January 2011, Charles Rock and others conspired to rig bids to obtain numerous properties sold at foreclosure auctions in Contra Costa County, negotiated payoffs for agreeing not to compete, held second, private auctions known as “rounds,” concealed those rounds and payoffs, and in the process, defrauded mortgage holders and other beneficiaries.

“This is the first post-indictment plea resulting from the investigation and marks a positive step forward in resolving the case,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “It is important for those who conspired to profit from rigged bids and illegal payoffs to take responsibility for their actions.”

“These charges demonstrate our continued commitment to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations responsible for the corruption of the public foreclosure auction process,” said David J. Johnson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office. “The FBI is committed to work these important cases and remains unwavering in our dedication to bring the members of these illegal conspiracies to justice.”

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for the Sherman Act charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim if either amount is greater than $1 million. Each count of mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Today’s charges are the latest filed by the department in its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties, California. These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300, or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.

Today’s charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit

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A fortunate foreclosure for farm animals: Animals in the News

View full sizeThe foreclosed property abutting Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary will provide more space for rescued farm animals and a spacious house for meetings and classes. 

RAVENNA, Ohio — Rarely does a foreclosed home bode well for a community, a family, their animal companions.

But one foreclosed property in Ravenna has opened new horizons for Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary.

“It has long been our dream to expand the Happy Trails facility with an education center and grassy pastures,” founder Annette Fisher said. “Last week, a home and barn on five acres, which connect to the back of Happy Trails, went up for sale at sheriff’s auction. We considered this an opportunity to grow where we are already planted.”

The sanctuary, founded 14 years ago, offered the winning bid and has 60 days to pay $159,500 for the four-bedroom ranch home and property.

The house will be used for meetings and classes in farm-animal care and vegan cooking. The barn will become a quarantine facility for newly rescued animals in need of isolation and veterinary care, Fisher said.

“The four-acre pasture will allow extra room for the horses and reduce the amount of hay we have to buy,” she said.

The barn needs some paint, the pasture needs a fence and the house needs “some cosmetic stuff,” Fisher said. “This is truly an exciting opportunity for the sanctuary.”

Anyone interested in donating to the Happy Trails expansion project can learn more at, call 330-296-5914 or mail a check to 5623 New Milford Road, Ravenna, 44266.

2014LandAcquisitionCampaign (PDF)

2014LandAcquisitionCampaign (Text)

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