This is the story of how I got here ... how I got in debt for $875,000 to recover the deed to my parents' house, the home of my sister and her son for most of his life.
My father bought his first house when I was born, in 1950. In 1964, the Kenyon Street neighborhood had begun to deteriorate, so for $35,000 he bought the house on Varnum Street. (I only lived there until 1968, when I left for college in another state.) My grandmother moved into the house on Kenyon Street, where she lived until her death. After that, we rented it.
When my parents died in 2000, we had already set things up so that Kenyon Street belonged to me, and Varnum Street, where my sister and her son had lived for nearly 20 years, belonged to my sister. But let me start with how things used to be.
Sherman, set the way-back machine for 1991 ...
In 1991, I was making $1,000 a week and paying $800 a month for rent (plus utilities) to live in a cottage on a lake in New England ... and I only had to be in the office 20 hours a week. I spent 6-8 weeks a year on the road, with an annual travel budget larger than my salary. I had an international reputation in a field that most people don't even know exists.
In 1996, I was self-employed selling a source code library on the internet for $5,000 per copy, and sometimes getting $2,000 a week (plus travel and lodging) to integrate my software into their application ... I was also recovering from a stroke, which led to me setting up my first Linux system and a Web server for my own domain name (www.WaterHoles.com).
In 2001, I had not had a client in over 18 months, I had declared bankruptcy to eliminate $35,000 in credit card debt, both of my parents had died within a year of each other, and I was relying on my sister to pay my rent from our recently deceased parents' estate.
A few months before 9/11, I left the cottage where I had lived for over a decade and moved into a co-op apartment Washington, DC, about 26 blocks from my sister's house. I paid $45,000 of my inheritance to buy a place that was about the same size as where I had been living since 1990, but the $600 a month fees included all of the utilities, so I only had to come up with the phone, DSL, and cable TV payments each month.
I borrowed $75,000 on the Kenyon Street property, spent 3 months fixing it up, and sold it within 6 months of the loan for $200,000 ... by the time I had repaid my accumulated debts, I had enough to live on for about 4 years. I also completed my collection of 20 one ounce gold coins, Chinese pandas, with a different design each year. I stopped after I got the first two years (1983-84), and since the Chinese had stopped changing the design, my collection ran from 1983-2002. Along with the Eagles, Maple Leaves, and K-rands, I had 32 ounces of gold in bullion form, plus several pounds of silver and an ounce of platinum.
Now it is 2006, and I have had to sell all of my gold at around $400 an ounce (it's up to $650 an ounce these days) to cover my co-op fees, as well as my collection of Lionel trains in their original boxes, untouched since the move to Varnum Street in 1964 ... I had 5 sets, and got a month with the same roof over my head for each set, with a little left over for gasoline at over $3.00 a gallon.
Oh, yeah ... now I'm the "owner" of my sister's house, with a $875,000 mortgage and monthly payments of $6,300 ... currently 6 months in arrears. They're about to foreclose and take it away, and we can't find anyone to prosecute (or even sue) Bashah I. Lucas, the slimy SOB who conned my sister out of ownership by pretending to be her son to obtain a refinance based on his credit history.
In hindsight, what she should have done was gotten a reverse mortgage, but she didn't understand how they worked, and she had done refinancing of properties before. The problem was that neither her credit rating nor mine was good enough to get a refinance, so he offered to co-sign a loan for her.
Not only did he keep the $250,000 he borrowed while giving my sister an "allowance", he took out a second mortgage of $500,000 as the sole owner without my sister's knowledge. Then she met this other SOB, Darryl Milton of Baltimore, MD (the broker) whose "solution" was to buy the house back from SOB #1 (Lucas), so he arranged for me to get a loan for $875,000 to pay off the two notes in the other guy's name, and give me clear, sole title to the property.
That was a year ago, and now I have learned that these two bastards were probably working together, since the broker must have done some Serious Hand Waving to get me a loan for $6,300 monthly payments without my having provided any IRS statements, and with no W-2 records for over a decade. Sound's like fraud to me!
I take full responsibility for my ignorance of how the process worked ... my sister said, "This is what we can do, and here's a guy who can make it happen ... we'll have it all paid back in 6 months to a year ... you just come to the closing and sign the papers ... we'll get enough cash back at settlement to pay the mortgage for 6 months, and by then, we'll have some income from the business I'm going to set up with the rest of the cash."
She's my big sister, who used to change my diapers over 50 years ago ... it's my parents' house, where they lived for the last 35 years of their lives ... you don't say no to her, and you don't ask her a lot of questions ... you just trust her judgment and sign where indicated.
Now, I make a point of reading things before I sign them, and often correct grammar and typographical errors ... but I don't always remember what I read after I've signed it. Some of the things that I read at the closing I was seeing for the first time, like the $6,300 a month payments, and the $3,000,000 in total payments after 30 years for a loan of $875,000 dollars. But my sister said, "Everything will be all right", and thus I spent two hours signing papers so that she could get the SOB's name off of the title before he could get any more loans using it as collateral.
Back in 2001 I had done some creative bookkeeping with my Schedule C in order to quality for the refinance on Kenyon Street, but I paid that off within a year, including a $3,000 penalty for the early payoff. I guess I knew that lying about my income was technically "fraud", but it was never my intention to defraud anyone ... I just had a temporary cash flow problem.
Four years later, I was older and wiser, and refused to supply false IRS returns that made it look as if I had an income of $100,00 a year from my own business. (I'd refused to do it to co-sign with my sister for the Varnum Street property in the first place, which is why she got involved with SOB #1 pretending to be her son.) The broker had me get testimonials from some of my customers as proof of the business ... some government agencies said that they could neither confirm nor deny that they used my product, and most of the ones that could reply were in Asia and Europe rather than domestic.
One of my contracts had been with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and I had billed them for 100 hours at $150 an hour to do a report on updates to MIL-D-28000 ... somehow SOB #2 used that to turn WiZ WORX into a million dollar business enterprise, but I didn't ask any questions.
For two years, my sister has been trying to get Lucas arrested for mortgage fraud, and predatory lending scams against the elderly (she's 67) carries double penalties in DC, but the DA won't prosecute. Because of his interstate dealings with other individuals, she believes that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act could be applied, but we can't get anyone at the Justice Department to respond. And as for a civil suit, we can't even find someone to serve papers on him because of his many identities and residences. (She still gets mail from realtors and lenders addressed to him, even though his name came off the property a year ago.)
Now I'm trying to get a refinance loan on my co-op so that I can throw $10,000 at a $250 an hour lawyer to get his assets frozen and start getting some payback before a Federal Marshall grabs his ass.
Anywho, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Well, it's been nearly a year, and I guess that I should update this ...
Needless to say, I defaulted on the loan for Varnum Street. When repossession seemed imminent, my sister warned me that the mortgage company would try to seize my co-op as well, to recover their money, so I transferred the title to her name in order to protect it. As it turns out, the nature of a co-op protects it from that kind of legal action, as it is not "real property" ... but instead of selling it as-is for over $170,000 and then skipping town and disappearing, I signed it over to her so that she would at least have a place to live.
In December, while she was putting things in storage and arranging for an estate auction to empty the house, I had a job interview for a manager position with Blockbuster Video ... they never called me back, and I got a $50 parking ticket to boot ... $35 for the expired meter in front of the store, and a $15 penalty for late payment; it blew off the windshield in the rain when I turned on the wipers, and I thought it was just a promotional, junk flyer, not a ticket, so my first awareness was when I got the letter a few weeks later about the increased penalty because I had missed the payment deadline. My auto insurance and registration were due around Xmas, and I had no money for either, but I figured that it could sit in the underground garage with its expired plates until something came along. I moved my bed, dresser, and personal effect from my bedroom into the living room so that my sister could move in with her medically prescribed adjustable bed, and the house was sold at a public auction on 2007-01-02 ... I later learned that the mortgage company bought it from itself at the auction.
In February, figuring that we didn't need two vehicles, and that my sister could park her van in the garage, I donated my van to charity ... she announced that her arthritis made it too difficult for her to get the car into the garage and into the parking space, so she sold the space the next week for $10,000 (without discussing it with me until after the sale was concluded, when she asked me for the garage door remote) and she let me have $700 of the profit after the fees were deducted from the sale ... I used the money to keep my Internet access alive on a few of my domains for another year (I had to let www.366th.org evaporate), and she spent the rest on her debts, and paid the co-op fees through the end of June.
Before I gave away the van, one of my last trips was to sell "Betsy", the .22 calibre rifle with Olympic sights that I had purchased in the 1970s, while I was married to Beth ... it was just Too Far to the NRA range in Vienna, VA (a 45 minute drive each way), and I couldn't afford the gas or the range fees ... besides, I figured it was one less thing for my sister to dispose of after I was gone, and the $500 I got for it helped pay the co-op fees for one more month.
So, now I no longer own the place where I live, I no longer have my own transportation, and I am living on $155 a month in food stamps the generosity of my my sister for cigarettes and cat food/litter, using public transportation to get to the free clinic for emergency medical attention ... it's a quarter-mile walk each way to the drug store or supermarket, so at least I get some exercise two or three times a week.
Last week I learned that the mortgage company is still unaware of the fraud, and they're still trying to seize the co-op in the foreclosure proceedings, so I am trying to borrow money for a lawyer to write some letter to "raise their consciousness" and redirect the efforts of their deep-pockets attorneys at the "Teflon Twins" (as I have taken to referring to Milton and Lucas, since none of this shit seems to be sticking to them, yet) ... my defense in this whole thing will be "mental defect", my clinical, near suicidal depression that kept me from getting more involved with the events a they unfolded ... right now, the only reason they're still alive is because I want them to suffer at least as much as I have for at least as long as I will, and revenge is the only thing that is keeping me from slitting my throat with my great-grandfather Arthur Albert Harrod's straight razor ... I had postponed my suicide planned for last fall in order to help my sister get relocated, then it became a one-day-at-a-time struggle.
A few months ago, I spent over an hour rolling ten pounds of pennies that I had collected over the past decade into $15 dollars that I hauled the quarter-mile on foot to buy a meal at the Chinese take-away, the first indulgence that I had allowed myself in weeks (this was before I was enrolled in the food stamp program) ... about a month later, a friend gave me $250, which I used to get things that food stamps won't cover, like cat litter, and some personal comfort items, like catching up on some English translations of "Fullmetal Alchemist", a Japanese manga that I had been collecting ... but that money is gone now, and I'm trying to borrow a few thousand to throw at a lawyer to try to stay out of jail (I was just a victim of the fraud by Milton, who pocketed at least $50,000 from the refinance as the "broker", plus another $20,000 he got from my sister in a scam involving a small business owner in Philadelphia), and to go after her first lawyer for stringing her along for two years on the totally bogus and unactionable "predatory lending" case against Lucas.
After my second marriage ended, I never wanted to live with a room-mate or a lover again, but now I cohabitate with something even worse ... a sibling .. it has all of the worst qualities of both, plus all of the "family" baggage, like "Mom always liked you better!" and "Stop treating me like Pop did!"
I've had a few promising inquiries about employment (a place in Iowa is looking for Fortran programmers with VAX experience, which is how I cut my eye teeth back at Xerox in the 1970s), but I have not heard anything about that one for weeks now. The last query I got about IGES from someone at Boeing was an "information only" question, with no potential for a sale ... its been two years now since my last sale (to a gentleman in Japan who had moved to a new company and got their bean-counters to purchase a new copy for his continued use), so I guess it's time to repackage my SDK for the GNU public license, as I promised myself I would do back in 1989, when I figured that I would no longer have any customers after ten years. So, I fill my time with TV and working on Wikipedia while waiting for the telephone to ring.
And that's all I have to say for now ... maybe I'll come back later and add some links to things. -=DAH=-
Last update: 2007-06-18 by
<Who is this "Dennette" person?>