Thursday, May 21, 2015

Las Vegas HOA takeover fraud ring sentencings

There are many sentencings going on this week in the multi-million dollar Las Vegas HOA takeover fraud prosecution.  I believe the number of people convicted stands at 38, and they include attorneys and former police officers.  I will post a summary of these sentences when the dust settles.

Man charged in $4.1 million condo fraud

Man charged in $4.1 million condo fraud

Oh, Canada:

"A St. Catharines man has been charged with defrauding 13 Hamilton and Burlington condominium corporations of $4.1 million. Police say Brett Mackenzie Leahey, 45, acted as the owner/operator of Integrated Condominium Management, a property management firm responsible for servicing and managing the finances of 10 condominium corporations in Burlington and three in Hamilton."

Using Drones To Enforce HOA Violations

Using Drones To Enforce HOA Violations

See the article below, in which I guess nobody knows whose drone is involved. But be aware that the CID industry, which is basically a whole lot of businesses who want to sell their services and products to HOAs and condo associations, is thinking about droning it up.  Ward Lucas thinks so. See this article from HOA Institute, which I think is by attorney Clint Goodman:

"Since the spike in private ownership of remote-controlled drones, more of us are asking whether homeowners associations can (or should) be using drones to enforce HOA violations.  There are mixed feelings about HOA drones.  Some are worried about privacy.  Others think their use will lead to abuse and “unreasonable enforcement” because it has too much of a “big brother” feel.  Others believe that technology is supposed to make life easier and having drones for their HOA’s code enforcement will significantly reduce the time and expense traditional enforcement brings.  Whatever your opinion is, when (not if) drone enforcement becomes a reality, associations need to be careful that the association uses them with prudence. Right now HOAs cannot use drones “commercially” without FAA approval.  Whether enforcement drones in HOAs are considered “commercial use” depends on who is using them and how.  For example, use of a drone is likely not “commercial” if it is privately owned by the President and used by the President or another director without pay.  Conversely, hiring a company to use drones for code enforcement may cross the line, at least right now.  If Amazon can get permission to do it, I have a feeling we will see the use of drones in the commercial context across the board very soon."

Homeowner’s association puts end to family’s ministry - The Newnan Times-Herald

Homeowner’s association puts end to family’s ministry - The Newnan Times-Herald

This nice Christian family started a volunteer project to collect and distribute household items to needy families, and eventually they incorporated it as a not-for-profit. That's when the HOA struck:

“We started, literally, out of our garage, collecting items. We got a P.O. box, we rented a storage unit which filled up rather quickly,” he said. They have storage space at their church, Vineyard, for linens, a food pantry at Turin United Methodist, and mattresses and beds in the storage unit.

Everything else went into their garage. But not anymore. The Novaks were recently cited by their homeowner’s association for conducting a business out of their home.

The citation, issued April 9, said, “Please do not conduct a business out of your home.”

Exclusive: Brickell Key Woman Says Drone Spied On Her As She Breastfed « CBS Miami

Exclusive: Brickell Key Woman Says Drone Spied On Her As She Breastfed « CBS Miami

"MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Imagine you’re in the privacy of your own home — possibly in a compromising position — and you turn around and  see a drone just a few feet from you. A Brickell Key woman says that’s what happened to her while she was breastfeeding her child earlier this week inside the family’s 12th floor condo."


I guess with this technology available now we are going to need new laws to protect us, and that's what is happening in Florida:

"Alessi’s privacy concerns are real, says Michelle Richardson with the American Civil Liberties Union. Richardson pointed to a new Florida law that will go into effect this summer — called the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” as a good first step towards regulating drones. Richardson said the law will impose civil penalties on drone users that capture images of unknowing people on private property where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. “When you’re talking about looking into people’s homes and violating individual privacy, it’s an unchartered area,” Richardson said. “And we’re really doing this for the first time in Florida.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Las Vegas HOA takeover fraudster sentenced

This week a bunch of the 38 convicted criminals involved with the Las Vegas HOA takeover scheme are being sentenced.  This one escaped prison.  I'm going to do a summary of  all this soon.

The message of this is obvious--HOAs and condo associations are fragile institutions that are totally dependent  on the resources of their owners.  By resources I mean money, time,  loyalty, and expertise.  With virtually no governmental oversight and most residents not paying attention, it is  easy for associations  to be taken over by groups of people who don't have the  community's best interest in mind. Some are just petty neighborhood dictators, some are looking to engage in self-dealing to help  themselves and their friends, and some are fraudsters.

HOA insurer not obligated to defend suit against HOA board absent underlying liabiltiy claim, court rules

In the past, insurers were readily inclined to defend most any legal action brought against an HOA board of directors even if there was no underlying claim of liability or damages such a lawsuit seeking equitable relief ordering the board to comply with the governing documents or state or federal law.

That may be changing if a recent Kentucky case is any indication. A Kentucky federal district court ruled an insurer had no duty to defend a claim under an HOA policy's directors and officers coverage, reasoning that D&O coverage is intended to shield corporate directors and officers for personal liability and not to protect the corporate entity itself.

Click here for a summary of the ruling in State Auto Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Highland Terrace Counsel of Co-Owners, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59663 (W.D. Ky. May 7, 2015) by Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP.

American condo buyer losing condo in Mexico due to liens

It appears that this unfortunate woman bought a Mexican condo as a retirement home, only to discover later that several Mexican workers had liens on the condo because of a pay dispute with the developer. A judge ruled in the workers' favor, and now they own what used to be her condo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Two conversations about constitutional rights

We have two different conversations about constitutional law. One is this hyper-technical purely legal analysis you see from lawyers and judges. The other is what really happens. So in this case, hooray, there are limits on the length of traffic stops, according to the USSC. But the other conversation says that if you get assertive about your constitutional rights in a real traffic stop, they won't let you go. Instead, you might get beaten, tazed, or shot.  The cop will likely face no consequences, just by claiming you resisted, or posed a "threat," or "he reached for his waistband." None of it needs to be true because a "reasonable mistake" is good enough. So, what good are rights if cops don't respect them and get away with violating them, day in and day out? The technological fix being proposed is video--dash cams and body cameras--and that may help, but the overriding problem is that police are drunk with power in this country. They can get away with almost anything and they know it. The can manipulate the on-the-scene situation, they investigate themselves, they have the union and prosecutors and most judges on  their side, and they are professional witnesses. Until that power situation changes, I think these USSC pronouncements are only meaningful in a small number of cases that get fully litigated. For thousands of day to day interactions between citizens and police, these "big decisions" are largely irrelevant.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

House Republicans want to do away with consumer protections for mobile home buyers

I just listened to (Vice) Presidential candidate Marco Rubio make the argument that Big Government regulation is the reason ordinary people are getting screwed by banks. If you can believe that, you can believe the Republicans have your best interests in mind, mobile home owners:

"The House will vote Tuesday to repeal consumer protections for low-income borrowers in rural America who have seen the promise of affordable housing turned into a financial sinkhole by a mobile home industry that makes pre-manufactured houses far more expensive to buy than they need to be.
The bill is part of the GOP majority’s campaign to chisel away at specific pieces of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul that became law in 2010 but which left many details to be filled in later by regulators. In this case, it was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that did that filling. After long study of both publicly-available data and proprietary information from the industry itself, the CFPB began enforcing new consumer protections for people who borrow money for a manufactured home. When Rep. Stephen Fincher’s bill to roll back those regulations passes on Tuesday, the rules will have been in force for barely 15 months. The mobile home financing market is an esoteric landscape for a battle between consumer advocates, regulators, and politicians. Compared to the American Dream trappings that come with traditional homeownership, families in mobile homes don’t have much cultural cache."

Monday, April 13, 2015

HOA oversight bills die in Florida

"Homeowners hoping for more state oversight of the association boards that rule their communities are out of luck this year as legislation to increase scrutiny of HOAs died for lack of support in Tallahassee.  It’s the second year in a row that proposals to give the Department of Business and Professional Regulation power to investigate complaints against homeowners associations and create educational programs for HOA board members failed to even make it to a single committee hearing."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Top Stories - Utah Homeowner Asked To Remove US Navy Flag From Home

WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Top Stories - Utah Homeowner Asked To Remove US Navy Flag From Home: (KUTV) A homeowners' association in Lehi is facing backlash online after sending a letter to a resident and telling her to remove a U.S. Navy flag displayed in her front yard.

Lucia Sandoval says she put the flag up to remember her husband, who is currently deployed with the U.S Navy. But shortly after the flag went up, she received a notice stating it was out of conformity with neighborhood standards.

"In a recent review of the community, it was brought to our attention that you may not be aware of one or more of the rules for the community," the letter from the HOA reads. "Your front yard had a flag displayed not in accordance with the accepted standards. Please remove the flag ASAP."

In the letter, the HOA cites community guidelines, which read, "Flags and flagpoles shall be uniformly placed and consistent in size and shape and shall not interfere with on site utilities."

Sandoval says she didn't understand how her flag violated any of those policies and is refusing to take it down.


Another flag flap, this one in the Utah sector of Privatopia. Film at 10 on WTVC Channel 9.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The town fascism built

"Nestled in eastern Long Island is a sleepy little town called Yaphank where the streets have cozy names like Oak and Park, names that hide a dark past: they once bore signs like Hitler and Goebbels Streets.Yaphank, in the 1930s, appeared as a haven for Americans--most of them of German heritage--who sympathized with the causes of the Third Reich.

In fact, it was largely founded as a Nazi camp, one of several scattered across the U.S., where the children in the German American Bund (AKA American Nazis) could fish, swim, hunt and learn about things like eugenics."

Read more: 
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