May 20, 2005

House Theft

Strange story from CBS News about a Cleveland man whose mother's house was stolen.
Can't Steal A House? Think Again
When Jon Thomas returned to Cleveland to bury his mother, he thought that was the worst of it. Then, as CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston reports, he drove by her house and discovered a stranger was living there.

"When you find people in your house, you expect to call police, come down, take the people out, arrest them and be happy," he says. But, as it turns out, he couldn't do any of that.

According to official records, he didn't own the house. It had been stolen soon after his parents moved into a nursing home and getting it back wouldn't be easy. CBS News flew Thomas to Shaker Heights from his home in New York to recount his ordeal.

"First of all, they look at me like I'm crazy," he says. "Then they say, 'What?'

"That's the one word everyone says, 'What? What do you mean stolen? You can't steal a house!'"

Even his lawyer was skeptical.

"When he approached me with a story of, 'My mom's house has been stolen,' frankly, I said to myself, 'Maybe this guy doesn't understand how real estate works,'" says Thomas' attorney Dean Boland. "That can't quite be."

But they soon discovered not only how the house was snatched, but how easy it was to do.

"The key documents were a fake ID card, a power of attorney and a quit claim deed ... literally three pieces of paper," says Boland.
A different riff on identity theft. Jon Thomas is an only child but his "sister" produced a forged Power of Atorney and proceeded to transfer the title to a company owned by a Richard Lenard for the princely sum of $25K (house is worth $250K). Lenard's company then took out a mortgage for $200K using the property as equity. They rented the house out as well as holding two estate sales. From the CBS News article:
It took Thomas more than two years to regain his house, and during that time the house was badly damaged by the unlawful tenants. Adding insult to injury, Lenard, the fraudulent owner, actually advertised and held two estate sales, exchanging a family's memories for money.

"If they didn't steal it, they sold it or they destroyed it - $100,000 worth of damage," says Thomas. "All my pictures gone; all mementoes gone; all my keepsakes, gone."

Lenard has been indicted on 38 counts and awaits trial in criminal court. Thomas got his mother's house back but has lost everything that made it a home.
Mr. Lenard needs to spend some time in the graybar motel. About five years should do it. Hard Labor would be a nice touch but I don't think they do that anymore... Posted by DaveH at May 20, 2005 8:19 PM

I have had my home and everthing I own in the world, all my daughter's photo's birth to 2004, my expensive and beautiful designer wardrobe, jewelry including a $500,000 Cartier ring, 2 Porsche automobiles, on and on and on stolen. The crime was committed by a man I have never met or heard of, who forged documents, lied and sold my Virginia Country Club Estate home and 3/4 of an acre of land it is on to the man next door. Everyone involved in this incident has a different interest or defense of their crime or mistakes and no one, except for a neighboring police department who arrested the suspect in one of my Porsches as a stolen vehicle, is doing anything about this. Long Beach Police Department, the city I reside in, took all the police reports, assigned case numbers and detectives and then suddenly did an about face regarding all theft and forgery (proven to a detective handling the stolen vehicle)of my name on DMV records for starters. Maybe because LBPD was called out to the seen of the crime while it was occurring and upon being presented with a forged Deed of Trust by the criminals told family members that there was nothing they could do, the deed he showed him proves he is the owner (I was in Mexico while this occurred, of course). Why, isn't possession 9/10ths of the law? Why, if all my belongings, my automobiles, my mail, including utilities in my name, and knowing personally the neighbors on every side of the property, again, why I ask would that not be possession. If they want a civil matter made out ot the argument, then why would they allow the seizing of a persons property and eviction of their only, sole means of shelter prior to any civil litigation. 9/10ths means 9/10ths! This is the same department who specifically told me to file a stolen vehicle report separate from the original fraud and forgery report that included all my worldly possessions and then after the suspect was arrested told the Gardena Police Detective ready to convice the suspect on forgery and grand theft auto, that they made a mistake, it is a civil matter, and they should have never filed the report to begin with. He forged my signature on Department of Motor Vehicle registration documents, it is proven he forged my signature, that is a crime. If he was in any way legal with his acts he never would have had to forge two automobile registrations. This probably soulds confusing and I know it does'nt read well. Sorry, I get so angry I can't even express myself correctly. I actually am articulate. It is almost 1 year from the day my home was taken. My 11-year-old daughter is living with my brother and I have been staying with what was my estranged husband (marriage at least has been reconsiled) since this crime. I don't know how to take on a police detective if he is trying to cover a departments mistake or if he really doesn't know what constitutes a criminal act. Gardena is in 100% agreement with me and wants to convice this man, the only deterrent is LBPD. They have not even investigated the crime, how would they know if it was a civil or criminal matter? Any suggestions, advise, involvement or ideas I would gladly appreciate. Please, please get involved if you can, this is the 3rd instance of this I have heard of beside my own and everyone of them needlessly gets misunderstood, miss-policed or not pursued due to lack of knowledge or due to the strangeness of the crime. Please contact me in needed at

Posted by: Bonnie Williams at June 1, 2005 9:34 PM
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