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Sandy victims still waiting for FEMA invited to fundraiser

The New Jersey Organizing Project (NJOP), a grassroots advocacy group for victims of Superstorm Sandy, will be holding a fund raiser on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 4-7 p.m. at the Lighthouse Tavern, 397 Route 9 in Waretown.

The “Sandyversary” event is being held to fund “the first community driven survey to get a picture of how the recovery is going, and how our health and finances may have been impacted (over the past four years),” according to their Web site.

“Additionally, it will help support our ongoing work to pass legislation to stop foreclosure on Sandy impacted families,” said the organization’s director Amanda Devecka-Rinear, a fourth-generation resident of Cedar Bonnet Island.

There are still thousands of people who registered for the state’s Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, a $1.1 billion, federally funded program, that aren’t back home or have not had the work completed, said Devecka-Rinear

NJOP’s past accomplishment were successfully lobbying Trenton for the creation of a Rental Assistance Program, and then led a coalition of communities and elected officials to extend rental assistance for families still out of their homes.

“We then worked with Senate President Stephen Sweeney to pass the Efficiency and Transparency in Sandy Recovery Spending Act,” said Devecka-Rinear

NJOP also worked with state legislators to pass a bill with strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and Legislature to prevent foreclosures on families whose properties had been impacted by Sandy and were still not back in their homes.

It was conditionally vetoed and sent back to the Senate by the Governor Chis Christie on the last day of the legislative session.

It effectively killed the bill causing hundreds of people to lose their homes, said Joe Mangino, of Manahawkin another NJOP founder.

The Legislature has already passed a new bill and it was unanimously voted out committee by the Senate earlier this week, he said.

“Several members and others testified at that hearing We aren’t going to quit, we will just keep plugging away to help people keep their homes,” Devecka-Rinear said

She and Mangino drew national attention to Sandy victims and NJOP shortly after Christie’s veto when they traveled to Iowa and publicly confronted the governor during a campaign event when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Sandy Memorial Wall they created in Trenton during a three-night campout at the statehouse to mark the third anniversary of Sandy last October served as the catalyst for the survey, said Mangino. “The stories we heard there and over the summer as we took the wall on tour inspired us to get a more broad based picture of what has and hasn’t happened in the last four years,” said Mangino.

NJOP has already launched the survey effort, entitled the Sandy Truth Project, when last Saturday they went door to door with approximately 60 volunteer students from Stockton University in Atlantic City.

Similar efforts are in the planning stages from there through Ocean County, including Little Egg/Tuckerton and Beach Haven West/LBI and on up the coast to Belmar, he added.

The survey is also online at

You can also find more information or join NJOP via their home page.

The will also be computers set up at the event at the Lighthouse, whose owner incidentally is Jim Keady, another NJOP founder and the man Gov. Chris Christie shouted at to “Sit down and shut-up!”

Keady had questioned the governor about the slow pace of the Sandy recovery efforts during a televised press conference in Belmar last November.

Tickets for Saturday’s fundraiser are $25 and can be purchased via the Web site or by calling or emailing Magino at 609-312-3899 or

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Midland Mall faces foreclosure

The Midland Mall

The Midland Mall

The Midland Mall faces foreclosure after defaulting on a $31.9 million loan, and a court-appointed receiver has taken over operations.
“The mall will be going through foreclosure,” said Michael Kalil, chief operating officer at the Southfield-based NAI Farbman, of the firm taking over.
Delaware-based Midland Mall LLC took out the mortgage on July 27, 2006, held byLaSalle Bank National Association, Bank of America, according to a legal listing that ran in the Midland Daily News on Thursday, Oct. 20.

The loan matured, and rather than refinance, “the property owner felt that it is in the best interest to go this route,” Kalil said.
CBL Associates Properties Inc. owns and manages the mall. A real estate investment trust, CBL is one of the largest in the U.S. and owns, holds interests in or manages more than 140 properties, and is an active developer of new regional malls, open-air centers, lifestyle and community centers, according to its website. Its corporate office is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The real estate firm NAI Farbman will handle the Midland Mall for the next seven months or so, according to Kalil, but will have no ownership. Sometime in the future, when repositioned, the mall will be put up for sale to a retailer investor, he said.
“Our role is to operate the asset efficiently and maximize value,” Kalil said.

Despite the foreclosure, there will be no impact to the mall as NAI Farbman has “good financial resources to operate the asset,” he said.
“We’re aggressively looking to backfill the Sears vacancy,” Kalil said. “We’ve got some good leads.” He did not specify which retailers are interested because talks are preliminary.

“It’s really business as usual,” Kalil said. “We’re very experienced regional mall operators, so really there should be no difference, and, actually, probably an improvement in operations and services.”

The legal listing states sale of the premises or some part of them is set for a public venue at the courthouse at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22. That’s when a lender will submit a bid in the foreclosure sale, Kalil said.

The nearly 471,000-square-foot Midland Mall opened in 1991. Like other malls across the country, retailers have come and gone in the past 25 years. Most recently, Sears closed this summer. RadioShack and Deb shops closed in 2015.

Vapor House and Shoe Dept. Encore opened new stores the same year, and Garber Chevrolet opened an 8,153-square-foot showroom next to Barnes and Noble. Picture People, Miracle Eyebrows, and Go! Calendar, Games and Toys also opened in 2015. There are currently 58 stores listed in the mall’s directory map.

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Hofmeister retail property headed for foreclosure sale

The Clearwater Crossing building that housed Hofmeister Personal Jewelers Inc. for 24 years before the retailer closed earlier this year is expected to be sold at foreclosure sale in the next few months, according to a court agreement filed Wednesday.

The sale is intended to resolve a lawsuit filed in May by Wells Fargo Bank that accused Hofmeister of defaulting on a $2.3 million mortgage on the building.

The bank said Hofmeister failed to make a monthly mortgage payment of $21,004 that was due on March 1 and missed further payments on April 1 and May 1.

The suit was filed against the retail business, its affiliates and co-owner Carter Hofmeister.  

The store closed shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

Gary Hofmeister, Carter’s father, founded the jewelry business in 1973 in downtown Indianapolis. The retailer later moved to the basement of Glendale Mall and, in 1992, to the freestanding location at 3809 E. 82nd St. in Clearwater Crossing.

In the latest court filing, both sides agreed that a sale of the property to satisfy the debt was the best course of action. The agreement is awaiting the approval of U.S. District Court Judge Larry McKinney.

According to court papers, Hofmeister now owes nearly $2.5 million to the lender to pay off the mortgage balance and additional interest and fees. That debt will rise by about $725 daily until the property is sold.

A foreclosure sale has yet to be scheduled, but attorneys for both sides estimated it would take place within three months after the judge approves the agreement.

The property includes a 6,863-square-foot retail building that was constructed in 1992 and 184 parking spaces on two parcels of land with a combined acreage of 1.1 acres.

If the sale does not bring in enough money to cover the debt, the bank could hold Hofmeister responsible for paying off the remainder.

The property had a 2015 assessed value of almost $1.2 million. Median per-square-foot retail property prices in the area would place the value of the building at close to $2.6 million.

The court case marked the latest legal problem for the retailer, which already was trying to recover from a bankruptcy it filed in 2011.

Hofmeister Personal Jewelers filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in April 2011, listing assets of nearly $3.8 million and liabilities of $5.4 million.

Carter owns about 85 percent of the business and managed operations, according to court papers. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

After Hofmeister’s closure, Jewel Box Jewelers in Zionsville acquired some the store’s equipment, hired two of its jewelers and agreed to pick up Hofmeister’s repair business.

The retail jewelry industry has been struggling since the Great Recession took a toll on discretionary spending. Jewelry stores also are facing growing competition from online retailers.

According to data from the Jewelers Board of Trade published by National Jeweler, the number of companies exiting the jewelry industry has been climbing.

The industry saw 442 jewelers, wholesalers and manufacturers in the United States and Canada cease operations in the second quarter, up from 335 in the first quarter and more than double the number of closures seen in the second quarter of 2015.

In the first six months of 2016, 577 jewelers decided to close, a 55 percent increase over the first two quarters of 2015.


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Memphis skyscraper faces foreclosure, receivership

Owners of Memphis’ tallest building, 100 North Main Downtown, face foreclosure by a lender and appointment of a receiver to oversee remedies to a lingering anti-neglect case.

The 38-story building’s primary lender has served notice of a Nov. 18 foreclosure sale due to owner IMH Memphis LLC’s failure to meet loan terms.

On Thursday in Shelby County Environmental Court, Judge Larry Potter said he’s been asked to appoint a receiver to take over management of the empty office building at Main and Adams.

Attorney John Ryder, representing first mortgage holder Shadow Tree Income Fund B LP and others, said the foreclosure sale could be forestalled by by payments from the building owner. “They have the right to come forward and tender payment,” Ryder said.

Ryder said the receivership order, expected to be signed by Potter later Thursday or Friday, would name real estate firm Cushman Wakefield / Commercial Advisors to manage the building and cleanup work required to eliminate code violations.

Potter and Steve Barlow, the city of Memphis’ anti-blight attorney, hailed the receivership move as good news for a building that has stood vacant and unrehabilitated for more than two years.

“I’m very pleased to announce there are some very positive things that are going to occur,” Potter said in court Thursday morning. He said building owners, the lender and the city agreed to the proposed receivership.

Barlow said, “We’re very encouraged and believe this will result in a prompt resolution.”

The Environmental Court case has dragged on since last fall as representatives of IMH Memphis and the city sparred over the owner’s inability to make repairs inside the building and clean up debris that’s considered a hazard to firefighters.

Ryder said his client stepped into the court action in an effort to protect its security interest in the building.

IMH Memphis bought 100 North Main in August 2015 and took a $2.8 million loan from White Plains, New York-based Shadow Tree, according to Shelby County Register of Deeds records..

The previous owner, One Hundred North Main LLC, bought the building from a longtime owner in 2013, emptied it of tenants and proposed a nearly $100 million development that never gained traction.

Larry Weissman, attorney for IMH Memphis, had previously told Potter’s court that building owners have been working to secure $60 million to $70 million in financing to pay for conversion into apartments and commercial space.

A prominent address Downtown for companies after its 1965 completion, 100 N. Main was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, although the 1986 book Memphis: An Architectural Guide  described it as “one of the least interesting” buildings in the center city. The tower was designed by Memphis architect Robert Lee Hall, who also designed Clark Tower in East Memphis.

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Attractive loans that could have hidden booby traps

To clients who need cash, a loan from their company retirement plan can look like easy money. Credit checks are not required, so the client does not face a lengthy approval process, and the interest rates available on plan loans are often very favorable. Such a loan can be a good option for a client with problems getting credit at an affordable rate.

But these loans carry some danger as well. There are a variety of complex rules that must be followed, and breaking those rules can have serious tax consequences. A loan that is considered in default is deemed a distribution of the retirement plan. This results in the balance being taxable and possibly subject to a 10% early distribution penalty.

This is just what happened in an important recent tax court case involving a California couple who defaulted on 403(b) plan loans taken to avoid foreclosure.

Let’s take a look at details that should be considered when clients have a retirement plan that give them the opportunity to borrow money from their accounts. Loans are much more likely to be allowed in defined contribution plans than in defined benefit plans. Loans are not available from IRAs, including SEP and Simple IRAs.

Plan loans are not a no-strings-attached deal. In general, there are three conditions that must be met to prevent the loan from being deemed a distribution.

1. The loan balance must be repaid within five years (an exception exists for loans used to aid in the purchase of a principal residence).

2. The loan must be repaid using a substantially equal level of amortization, with payments no less frequently than quarterly. In other words, if you took a $5,000 loan from your plan and were paying it back quarterly over five years, each payment should be $250 (ignoring interest). You could not make 19 quarterly payments of $100 and then one final payment of $3,100.

3. The loan balance also may not exceed certain limits. It must be the lesser of: $50,000 (reduced if applicable, by the highest outstanding loan balance from the year prior to a new loan) or the greater of $10,000 or one-half of the vested account balance.

The requirement that a plan loan be repaid within five years does not apply to a loan used to acquire a principal residence. In general, mortgage refinancing cannot qualify as a principal residence plan loan. The other requirements for plan loans still apply.

What happens if a payment is missed on the loan? The plan terms will generally specify when a default is said to occur. A plan may provide a “cure period,” or grace period, if a payment is missed.

A cure period can provide that a loan doesn’t become a “deemed distribution” until the end of the calendar quarter after the quarter in which the repayment was missed. For example, Ann took a loan from her 401(k). If she missed a payment due March 31, the end of the first quarter of the year, she would have until the end of the second quarter, June 30, to bring the loan current. If she does not, the loan will be treated as a distribution on June 30.

Not all plans have the maximum cure period allowed under the law. Some may not have a cure period at all. Advisers should be sure to check plan documents to determine exactly when a loan is treated as a distribution.

Generally, a defaulted loan is considered a deemed distribution. The plan reports the outstanding loan balance on Form 1099-R with the designation Code L in Box 7. A deemed distribution isn’t offset from the participant’s account. This unpaid amount will remain recorded as an outstanding loan by the plan until a distribution can occur under the plan’s terms. A deemed distribution is taxable and subject to the 10% early distribution penalty. A deemed distribution is not eligible to be rolled over to IRA.

Clients can still make up missed payments even after a deemed distribution has occurred. In that case, their basis under the plan is increased by the amount of the late repayments.

What happens if a client has a loan and leaves his job before he repays it? Now that he doesn’t work for that employer, he is probably eligible to receive a distribution of his plan balance. But what about the unpaid loan?

Very few plans want to handle loan payments from individuals who no longer work for the company. Generally, the client will be given 60 days to pay off the loan balance. During that time, the client can, for example, get a bank loan to pay off the plan loan.

After the grace period, if he hasn’t paid the loan, the plan will do a “loan offset,” whereby the unpaid loan balance will be subtracted from the plan balance. The loan offset amount is reported as a distribution on Form 1099-R. The distribution is taxable and may be subject to the 10% early distribution penalty.

The client can avoid taxes and penalties by rolling over the loan offset amount to an IRA within 60 days. He’ll have to come up with the cash from personal assets or a bank loan, but at least he has an opportunity to avoid taxes on the offset amount. If the client doesn’t repay the outstanding balance, it is treated as a distribution.

In the recent case (Dora Marie Martinez et vir v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2016-182; No. 8483-15, Sept. 28, 2016), Dora Marie Martinez worked as a public school teacher in Los Angeles. Her husband, Carlos Garcia, was a truck driver. The couple had some financial problems and faced foreclosure on their home in 2010.

To save their home, Martinez decided to borrow from her 403(b) retirement plan. She requested two loans from her plan. Each loan agreement indicated that the loan was to be repaid in quarterly payments over a five-year period. The loans also included language in all capital letters stating that the new loan was “not to be used as a residential loan.” She signed both loan agreements.

Martinez made some payments on the loan but could not keep up and stopped payments. As a result of her default, the plan deemed the loan balances, $20,581.85 and $2,906.92, respectively, to be taxable distributions in 2012. The deemed distributions were reported on a 2012 Form 1099-R as fully taxable with a distribution code of L, designating a deemed distribution.

On their jointly filed 2012 federal income tax return, Martinez and Garcia reported only their wage income. They did not report income from the deemed distributions. They also did not report income from various other sources totaling about $1,000.

The court held that because Martinez failed to make loan payments after May 2012 and did not repay these missed amounts within the cure period, the loan balances were deemed taxable distributions in 2012.

The court reminded Martinez that tax regulations establish the timing and amount of a deemed distribution. A retirement plan participant’s loan from her retirement account is essentially a debt to herself. The participant has borrowed her own money. If a participant should fail to repay, the administrator has no personal recourse against her. Instead, the regulations require that the plan deem the outstanding loan balance to be a distribution of funds.

The court also struck down Martinez’s argument that there was no deemed distribution because the loans were used to acquire a principal residence.

And it had more bad news for Martinez and Garcia. It said that they owed the 10% early distribution penalty on the deemed distributions from the plan because Martinez was 43 years old in 2012 when the distributions were received. The court also said that taxes were owed on the approximately $1,000 in taxable income from various sources that was not reported. To top it off, the court also hit Martinez and Garcia with the 20% accuracy penalty.

This case shows why you should be cautious about seeking a retirement plan loan. In most instances, plan loans should be a last resort. Advisers who have clients considering such loans should make sure that the client understands all of the loan and tax provisions and the potential penalties if the loan cannot be repaid.

Also, be careful with clients who want to take plan loans when their employment may not be secure. The best option for loan repayments is to have the payments automatically withheld from the paycheck whenever possible.


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North Tahoe Mellow Fellow closes after property’s foreclosure

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — On Sunday afternoon, after the big 50-percent-off-everything-closing party, there is little activity as a couple of bartenders attempt to sell the last six beers on tap.

The Mellow Fellow in Kings Beach had already run out of food the day before, and the chalkboard that usually lists out 40 beers is pretty much wiped clean.

“We’re down to the very scraps,” said Mellow Fellow Owner Ryan Eller.

Saturday night’s closing party brought out a lot of people; Eller and the bartenders said they were busy the whole time.

In town for the weekend from Bend, Ore., Tim Coleman and Suzanne Karnofski went to Mellow Fellow Saturday afternoon.

“When we got there they were already out of food and had only high-percentage beers left. But they had a decent crowd out enjoying the sun and live music,” they said.

Mellow Fellow had been operating as a brewpub in the 9980 North Lake Blvd. location, bordering the North Tahoe state line on the California side, since June 2012 but recently lost its lease due to the property being sold.

“An investment group bought this property in a foreclosure auction in early September, and our lease did not carry over,” says Eller.

According to the Placer County Recorder’s office, a public sale of the defaulted property took place Sept. 6 in Roseville, Calif.

According to public records, the roughly 5,600-square-foot property sold for $430,000 on Sept. 21 to EVO Real Estate Opportunities, Inc., located in Squaw Valley.

The property’s former landlord, John G. Arden, was keeping the rent money instead of paying the mortgage, Eller said, which caused the property to go into foreclosure.

Arden was unable to be reached for comment for this story.

Eller said that due to maintenance and upkeep costs to keep the business going, Mellow Fellow wasn’t interested in buying the property.

“We had a cracked back patio, the bathroom needs to be upgraded to be ADA-compliant, the parking lot needs to be repaved; it would take a lot to keep it going,” he said.

Eller said that normally landlords help bring issues like this up to code, but Arden has been unresponsive.

Arden formerly operated the Straddles Border Stop diner that opened at the location in 2005, but it had been closed for years before Eller leased it from him in 2012.

“I paid rent every month for four and a half years, and the landlord was keeping all of the money,” said Eller.

“But I have nothing negative to say about the new owners; they’ve been very cordial and cooperative,” he added about the transition.

Mellow Fellow is moving out its equipment this week, and the new owners are expected to take over the building Oct. 30. Eller said that he was not sure what kind of business will open next in that location.

Mellow Fellow still maintains its other brewpubs in Truckee and Downtown Reno, as well as its newest location in Virginia City, which opened this summer.

The company is known for selling a variety of craft beers, with at least 40 selections available on tap at all times.

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Homeowners Struggling To Stop Foreclosure

By Libby Smith

LITTLETON, Colo (CBS4) – In 2015, there were 4,209 homes sold in foreclosures, that’s down from the 25,054 sold in foreclosure in 2007. As a result of the recession, the government issued new rules to help homeowners keep their homes out of foreclosure, but some homeowners are still falling through the cracks.

“I loved it,” said Theresa Davalos, about the home she owned in Littleton.

She, her husband and two children, lived in the three-bedroom house for 16 years. Then she lost her job, she lost her father suddenly, and she was in danger of losing her house.

“I wasn’t able to fully pay it, of course,” Davalos said of the mortgage payments.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

In January of 2014, Davalos got a letter from Bank of America offering a mortgage modification.

“I was ecstatic. It was such a relief,” Davalos told CBS4.

She said she entered into an application maze that had her submitting and resubmitting her financial documents.

“It took until January, I believe, of 2015 for them to approve my modification,“ Davalos explained.

Davalos started making her trial period payments. She was assigned an account manager, but when she couldn’t get a hold of her, she ended up talking to various different agents.

“So whenever I tried to call to get the information or whatever I needed I was always talking to someone different,” Davalos said.

When Davalos made a mistake with her bank account, she said she tried to call and fix it, but she was dealing with someone who was unfamiliar with her account.

“I said, ‘I’m calling to make my last trial payment for my modification,’ and she said, ‘Honey, I don’t show you owe anything.’ I said, ‘Are you sure? Because I know I do. Because this is the last payment for my modification and I don’t want to screw this up,’” she recounted.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Davalos ended up missing that payment and was dropped from the modification program. She got a letter that her home was going into foreclosure.

“I got denied and I fought it and I fought it and I fought it,” she said.

In a statement to CBS4, Bank of America said it can’t comment on Ms. Davalos’ account due to confidentiality. But that they fully reviewed her account history, which included several forbearance and modification reviews.

In 2014, the federal government issued new rules to streamline the mortgage modification process. Lenders are required to assign a single account manager, they’re compelled to expedite the application process, and be responsive to customer questions.

In June, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a survey of how mortgage companies are doing with the new rules. While the survey doesn’t identify the mortgage service companies by name, it does indicate that some servicers have made significant improvements in the last several years through training and computer upgrades. It also shows a wide range of legal violations are still occurring that result in information going to homeowners that is late, incorrect, or deceptive.

“It took me three years … three years, and I finally had to throw my hands up,” Davalos said.

Davalos said she feels beaten by the maze that is mortgage modification.

“I fought … with my soul … I fought with everything I had in me.”

Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.

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Jacksonville family forced to move after learning rental was in foreclosure

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—A mother of four was planning to spend the upcoming holidays in the home they’ve been renting – until two weeks days ago, that is.

“Christmas is coming up, Thanksgiving is coming up, so I thought I was good,” said Somaya Jones.

Jones plans changed abruptly and Wednesday she is in a quandary.

“Now I have to find another home,” she said.

Back in February, she signed a year lease with R.H.M.G., a Tampa based company. She said she found the North Jacksonville house listed on

The teacher’s assistant said the home is the perfect size for her family: four bedrooms two baths. The rent is perfect her budget – $1300 a month – but now she knows it was a bad deal from the start.

The property has been facing foreclosure since 2015, but Jones said she did not know its status was in the courts.

“I met Kaylee here and she gave me a tour. She looked like she actually owned it or representing the ownership,” said Jones.

It became clear that she wasn’t by Oct. 5, when Jones received a Fed Ex letter from the attorney representing DHI mortgage. It told her she has to vacate the property.

“Oh my God what am I going to do,” said Jones. “That was my reaction.”

Court records and the records at the Property Appraiser’s office revealed the property has been in trouble since 2015.

The owners divorced shortly after DHI Mortgage began foreclosure proceedings.

Records from the property appraiser show that during the divorse process, the person that still lived in the house decided to ‘Quit Claim’ the property to Riverstone Way Land Trust, which shares the same address as R.H.M.G. (Residential Home Management Group).

Jones said she has made several attempts to reach Kaylee or Michael Chancey with R.H.M.G. and her calls are going to voicemail and there has been no response.

“They’re like Casper the friendly ghost, they’re gone,” she said.

On Your Side also made several calls to the company and got the same results: voicemail and no return calls.

The Better Business Bureau also received no answer to its inquiries from other tenants. Those tenants filed a complaint with the BBB after finding out the property they were renting was in foreclosure. The BBB has given R.H.M.G. an ‘F’ rating.

Jones has filed a complaint with Florida’s Attorney General and she is waiting on the outcome.

“It is a lesson learned,” she said. “I just want people to be careful where you put your money – make sure it is legit.”


(© 2016 WTLV)

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Monmouth and Ocean county briefs

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Wayne Co. tax foreclosure evictions begin – Detroit News

Families who sued Wayne County and several suburban cities last year over what they called illegal tax foreclosures are now being evicted after losing several court cases.

Among them is a Lincoln Park woman who says she lost nearly all her belongings Friday, when she was evicted her from her home while she was at work. Her attorney, Tarek Baydoun, said she should have been notified that a court hearing was held to issue an eviction order and that once it was posted, she should have had 24 hours’ notice to leave.

“The feeling is like you are totally broken,” said Brandy Gutierrez, 32, who added she found her locks changed and a mound of her possessions on the curb.

She is among the 18 families who sued the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office in December in U.S. District Court to stop their evictions. They allege they didn’t receive foreclosure notices and in some cases were told by county officials they had more time to save their properties. The county sold the homes to suburban communities, including Lincoln Park and Garden City, which resold them to developers to fix.

Treasurer Eric Sabree maintained his office followed the law and that many homeowners were foreclosed when they missed payments.

The evictions were on hold while courts considered the cases. U.S. District Judge Judith E. Levy dismissed the case in September in part because she said she didn’t have jurisdiction. Separately, several Wayne County judges upheld the evictions.

At least four of the 18 have been evicted, said Baydoun, who represents the families and is appealing Levy’s ruling.

Gutierrez said she went to her part-time job at a roofing company Friday about 6 a.m. When she returned about 8 p.m., she said the house had new locks, piles of her belongings were at the curb and an eviction notice was on the door. She said she did not see any notice when she left for work.

She said she’s missing most of her belongings including dozens of power tools, jewelry and about $800 in cash.

“I don’t even have a bed sheet to give my kids,” said Gutierrez, who sent her two children to live with their grandmother months ago while the home was in limbo.

An attorney for Warren-based JSR Funding, which bought the homes from Lincoln Park, said the eviction was the “result of years of non-payment of taxes.”

“We are very confused by her claim that she was surprised by the eviction because surely her attorney should have advised her as to the legal significance of losing an appeal to set aside a court ordered eviction,” Tony Taweel wrote in an email.

Officials with the 25th District Court in Lincoln Park didn’t return calls for comment. Evictions are initiated by property owners but are enforced by court officers.

Gutierrez said she fell behind on taxes because her estranged husband never told her he wasn’t paying until the unpaid bill accumulated to nearly $12,000. She borrowed money to pay about $8,000 in December 2014 and got on a repayment plan.

County officials said they foreclosed when she fell behind on those payments.

Gutierrez contends she didn’t get foreclosure notices. County staffers told her she was caught up enough to avoid foreclosure, she said, and had until December to pay. She went to the city with a $4,000 cashier’s check, but it was too late. The home was mortgage free.

Gutierrez said she is now living out of her car, sleeping at work or her sister’s couch.

Another Lincoln Park homeowner, 38-year-old Tim Padden, said he got an eviction notice Friday but was given until Monday to move out by a court officer. Padden also said he thought he had more time to pay, didn’t get foreclosure notices and was given bad information by county staffers that he had more time.

“We’ve been in that house for 14 years,” said Padden. “The city (of Lincoln Park) should have notified us. That would have been the right thing to do.”

The family of four, with two teenage sons, is now living apart at the homes of friends and family.

Allegations of botched foreclosure notices aren’t new to the county.

State law requires officials to reach out to anyone with possible interest in the properties when it is headed to foreclosure — through First-Class and certified letters, newspaper notices and personal property visits, including posted notices if no one is home.

The Detroit News obtained records of certified mailings through the Freedom of Information Act and sampled 1,000 of the 333,000 sent by one contractor in late 2014. More than half were still listed in the U.S. post office’s tracking system as “in transit,” The News found.

County officials acknowledged they haven’t always received proof from the post office that a person signed for the letter or that delivery was attempted, but said there was no evidence the post office didn’t try to deliver the letters.

Family of both Padden and Gutierrez have set up online fundraising sites to help pay for their relocation.

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