Fraudulent Sale of Maine Woman's Home
From the Stanley Scoop, November 2003
The purpose of this notice is to inform you of a potential callout regarding MDPM member Dottie Lafortune. This notice will give you the information you need to understand how her rights are being violated. It also contains preliminary logistical information.
This is not an alert. There is nothing you need to do other than familiarize yourself with the information herein and prepare yourself accordingly for a minimum 10 day engagement. Occasional e-mail Status Reports will be published to keep you apprised of the situation. The next communication you will receive regarding Dottie's deprivation of rights will be either a Stand Down or a High Alert notice. Please check your e-mail regularly. This situation will most likely result in a call out.
By Dottie Lafortune
My name is Dottie Lafortune. I was born and raised in Biddeford, Maine. I took dance lessons from grade school thru high school. Upon graduation from St. Louis High School in 1967, I became employed as the Executive Secretary for Learning Services Hub, a guidance and counseling department of the Biddeford-Saco school system. I also started my own business, a dance school, in the basement of my parents' home.
When funding ended for the guidance and counseling department, I continued with my school, full time. I rented space downtown for a couple of years, then bought my home on Graham Street, Biddeford where I had my dance studio on the first floor and lived on the second floor. In 1984 I purchased a commercial piece of property in Saco, next town over, and brought my business to Saco. During my dance career which lasted for 25 years, until my property was fraudulently confiscated, in addition to teaching at my school I also taught physical education classes at Sweetser Children's Home, (a home for troubled youth), taught at Camp Waban (a camp for retarded children), taught ballroom classes for Biddeford Adult Education and for Kennebunk Parks and Recreation. I also taught classes in Hollis, Maine.
I was divorced in 1990. I was blessed with one beautiful, talented daughter, Nicole. My daughter passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly in 1989 at the age of 14.
In April of 2000, I hosted a local public access tv talk show, The Maine Forum. Many guests from all over the country appeared on my program. On July 4, 2002 Philip Castora, Private Investigator in my case, appeared on my program and exposed the corruption with the City of Biddeford and the State of Maine.
Councilor (and former mayor) James Grattelo fought hard to remove me from public access. My program with Phil was pulled from the air and the mayor Donna Dion wanted to preview all of my programs before they aired. The Maine Civil Liberties Union took on my First Amendment case against the City. (More details on The Maine Forum website at http://www.geocities.com/maineforum ) The city eventually "blacked out" public access. The city eventually restored the public access station, but not to the public, only governmental and educational (football, baseball) programs. My case against the city is still pending in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2002, I ran for State Senate seat, garnered 12% in a three way race (first time running), quite an achievement having no big money machine to back me. On November 4, 2003 I was a candidate for Biddeford City Council, lost by 70 votes (City clerk contacted me today to let me know that due to many complaints, she will investigate the ballots in my ward 5 and Ward 4. Ballots from Ward 5 were placed in Ward 4 machines. I don't know what the outcome was, but maybe I won).
Since 1991 I have been in a battle with corrupt city officials and bankers which has led to the present situation at hand. I believe in our constitution and the rights of the people. I have stood up for my rights...and my rights are your rights..... If we do not stand up for our rights, we will no longer have any. In Biddeford, Maine freedom of speech and property rights have disappeared because elected officials don't know, or understand, the oath that they took when sworn into office. I will stand my ground and will not leave my home. I did nothing wrong.
The following MDPM member profile was submitted by Phillip Castora. Phil lives in the apartment building owned by Dottie. Phil has been assisting Dottie these past years and will be helping to defend Dottie from within the building with her.
By Phillip Castora
My name is Philip Castora, I am a WWII Veteran, a Private Investigator licensed in the State of Maine for over 30 yrs., a former York County Deputy Sheriff, a former Biddeford City Councilor. I was born in New Jersey. I was employed in the Department of Public Affairs and did undercover work for Col. Copello of the N.J. State Police. I moved to Maine in 1970. After working with Capt. Jameson of the Saco Police Dept., for a short time, I decided to apply for my Private Investigators license in 1972 and have been licensed and bonded ever since.
I was a deputy sheriff with the York County Sheriff's Department for 5 years under the administration of Richard Dutremble. I was owner of Phil's Cafe in Biddeford for 5 years and had to give it up for health reasons.
I met Dot and her mother in the early 1980's and began an investigation into the wrongful death of Dot's father. I became involved in other investigations which seemed to snowball from my initial investigation of the wrongful death. My investigation continues to this day involving Dot's properties in Saco and Biddeford. In all my years in law enforcement, I've never witnessed such inhumane treatment to two innocent women, one who has since passed away, Dot's mother, Marion due to the hell that Biddeford city officials/bankers put her through (more details at http://www.geocities.com/maineforum).
Although Marion suffered a stroke while fighting to regain possession of her home, as she and her daughter were living without heat, hot water or electricity, and passed away in 1999, I believe she died of a broken heart as she watched her home being stolen by Coastal Bank in concert with Biddeford City officials. I have all the documentation to prove how Coastal Bank, Mayor James Grattelo and Attorney Harry Center conspired "behind closed doors," in an illegal city council executive session, to take Marion Lafortune's home.
I fought all of my life for what our constitution stands for and I'll be damned if I let these corrupt officials, judges, lawyers continue to steal peoples' homes, property and rights.
By Dottie LaFortune
After years of operating my business in Biddeford, I bought a piece of property, Commercial Property, in Saco, Maine. In 1984 I received from the City of Saco a permit to operate a dance studio and a retail store. I decided to close the store and do something else with that part of the building in order to generate more income to support the building and avoid a foreclosure on my property. I went to the City of Saco officials, but was denied a permit being told that was in a Residential area. I was sent from board to board and as the delays continued I told city officials that if the delays continued the bank would end up taking my property. That's exactly what happened. I was never notified of the foreclosure hearing, although I was represented by Attorney Stuart Tisdale of Portland, Maine. He notified me after the hearing was held to let me know I had lost the property. However, city officials allowed the bank to sell my property as Commercial Property. An auction was held on the property. I went to this auction and a friend of mine bid on the property. After my friend's highest bid was made, the auctioneer, Peter Zafirson, took a break and went outside with the bankers and their attorney. After a ten minute break they came back into the building and the auction continued. The bank made a bid higher than my friend's bid. The auction ended abruptly and the bank ended up with the property for $80 - $82,000. The Notice of Public Sale published in the newspaper listed the property at $134,000. I can only guesstimate that I owed the bank about $70,000 because I never did get any loan documentation on my refinancing in 1991.
According to the Registry of Deeds office, the bank sold the property to S.B.M. Corp., deed, page 2 some members who are officers in this bank, William Kany, President of the bank and loan officer Melvin Wilbur whom I dealt with in 1991 in the refinancing of my properties and was not able to obtain loan documentation.
According to the bankers, they didn't have the documentation. S.B.M. Corp. deed sold the property to Mr. Bruce Haskell, the second lowest bidder at the auction and he brought his business to this location. Mr. Haskell sold his mortgage, deed, page 2, back to the bank for $1.00. I've pursued the bank's "taking" of my property and my livelihood since l993.
In October 1991 I requested the Biddeford tax assessor to change their tax records indicating that I was the sole owner of my property. Rene Camire, Tax Assessor, stated that an Abstract of Divorce Judgment regarding real estate to be inadequate for the transfer of real estate and refused to change over title of property in my name.
In December 1991 I had refinanced my home and business properties with Saco Biddeford Savings Institution after months of harassment by bank officials. However, the bank refused to give me my loan documentation because the City of Biddeford refused to change their tax records in my name.
In February 1993 Rene Camire, Tax Assessor accepted an Abstract as sufficient to transfer title, per advice of Attorney Harry Center, Biddeford's City Solicitor and who also is a partner in the law firm of Smith & Elliott who represents Saco Biddeford Savings Bank. However, tax bills, sewer bills were sent in my ex-husband's name; documents show that I am owner, others show my ex-husband and I are owners. If an Abstract had been sufficient for transfer of title in the records at Biddeford City Hall, per advice of Attorney Harry Center in February 1993, no city records should have included my ex-husband as owner of my property. I wanted to sell my property back in 1992 and did not, at that time, understand why realtors did not want to list my property. The inadequate and inaccurate record keeping by city officials have deprived me of my right to sell my property. I was fighting to regain my business property in Saco and fighting with Biddeford to keep accurate tax records on my property.
In 1995 having no income, I did fall behind on the mortgage payments on my home, located in Biddeford. Saco Biddeford Savings Bank filed a complaint of foreclosure on my home in 1994. The bank was represented by Attorney Roger Elliott in the law firm of Smith Elliott & Garmey. I filed a counterclaim, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6, page 7, page 8, page 9, page 10, page 11, page 12, page 13, page 14, against the bank on grounds of fraud, fraudulent transfer of property, lack of jurisdiction and a demand for a trial by jury. There was no foreclosure hearing held, nor has my counterclaim against the bank been heard.
However, one hearing was held to eliminate some of the motions filed by both parties. When I asked the judge about my motion for trial by jury he said he would take it under advisement and get back to both parties. This was in February l995. A few days after this hearing, I received a judgment of foreclosure against my home. I returned the Judgment to the court for Just Cause, page 2, stating my facts supported by memorandum of law. The bank did not file a report of sale as required by law. About 6 months after this judgment, Attorney Elliott wanted to meet with me to try and resolve this matter.
I met him at his office with my mother and Mr. Castora. The meeting lasted about 20minutes and what Attorney Elliott wanted me to do was to sign off on my mortgage and the bank would give me some money, although he would not disclose the amount. I refused the deal. I have this on tape that was given to me by Attorney Elliott. I knew there was fraud involved and if I would have accepted the deal, the bank and those involved would have been in the clear.
It has been over 8 years since this judgment and I am still in my home. During all of this time, I still was trying to get the city to straighten out the records. In 1999, someone called City Hall to ask who the owner was of 22 Graham Street; she was told that the city did not know who the owner was. I had two city councilors sit with me at a meeting with the tax collector, in 1999, to discuss the tax records on my property. (I wanted witnesses with me.) I asked for a printout of my taxes from 1991 to 1999. If I owed taxes, I wanted to know the amount. I was told that records prior to 1994 (or 1995) had been "incinerated."
I hadn't paid the taxes, who did? Were they paid? If I was the owner, according to the city's records, and I owed the city money, why would they "incinerate" records on taxes that I owed? This was never resolved. I finally came across a realtor who wanted to list my home for sale. After checking with the city, he decided that he would not list my home because it was not marketable due to the complex circumstances surrounding my property. He did put this in writing for me. I continued to try and unravel this mess with the help of Philip Castora, P.I.
During the period of approximately 1993 to present, tax liens were placed on my property. However, there were times I received tax bills and times I did not. To further complicate this matter was the bank's judgment of foreclosure (although null and void) which the city held as a tax record. If the bank was the owner, the city should have sent tax bills to them. If the bank was the owner, why didn't they get marshals to come and take me out?
After trying for years to get the city council and city officials to take a look at all of the documentation I had acquired and the corruption within City Hall in other various departments, I decided to air this publicly on our local public access station. In April 2001, I hosted a tv talk show, The Maine Forum, on local public access. On July 4, 2001 Philip Castora was my guest and he exposed the corruption within the city and those officials who covered up the corruption.
Councilor James Grattelo had been the "puppeteer" in this city for years, as mayor and now as councilor. He pushed the mayor into pulling my program "What Price Justice?" with Castora, from the air. Grattelo tried everything to get me off the air - completely! When he couldn't accomplish that, he played the "tax" card. He tried to change the city ordinance to state that in order to use public access you had to be a taxpayer in good standing. The public spoke out against this ordinance and The Maine Civil Liberties Union came in on a First Amendment case against the city. The city council ended up blacking out public access and had a First Amendment fight on their hands. Grattelo then decided it was time to crack down on people who owe taxes and foreclose upon their properties, something that had never been done to my knowledge, or Grattelo's.
The council chose about 20 properties to foreclose on, several of which were abandoned properties that the city was going to take anyway, and mine. My requests for an abatement of her taxes, as allowed by the statute 36 M.S.R.A. 943-A. were denied and my attempt to enter into a payment plan was denied.
In March 2002, the City of Biddeford officials moved to foreclose on tax liens it purportedly had filed against my property at 22 Graham Street in Biddeford, Maine. A Legal Notice of Tax Sale Bid was placed in the newspaper in April 2002. Per the legal notice, all sealed bids must be received by May 22, 2002 and bids would be opened, reviewed, and awarded by the City Manager on June 5, 2002 at 9:00 AM. Prematurely, and in violation of the tax lien statutes 36 M.S.R.A. 941, et. seq., the sealed bids were opened on or about May 22, 2002. Prematurely, on June 4, 2002, the Biddeford City Council held a council meeting to vote on authorizing the conveyance of the tax liens to certain bidders, one of whom was Mr. Tim Q. Ly.
In May 2002, the City of Biddeford, Maine, held a public sale of purported tax liens on the property at 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine. The newspaper advertisement set forth June 5, 2002, as the date the sealed bids would be opened, reviewed and awarded. The bids were prematurely opened by the City of Biddeford on May 22, 2002 and Tim Q. Ly was awarded the purchase of the tax lien purportedly against 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine on June 4, 2002. Further, the City of Biddeford improperly ran the newspaper advertisement for the public auction as an auction of the property at 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine, instead of an public sale of the tax lien.
In June 2002, the City of Biddeford, Maine, contrary to the statute, improperly released a quit claim deed to Mr. Tim Q. Ly representing a release of its interest in 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine, which listed the book and page numbers purportedly of the tax liens upon which the city based its purported interest in the aforesaid property. The city improperly did not set forth an exact valuation of its tax lien interests in the quit claim deed as required by statute.
On July 22, 2003, Tim Q. Ly filed an action in the district court against the me falsely claiming ownership of the real property at 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine, improperly using landlord tenant laws in Maine, under the summary action of forcible entry and detainer, to oust me from my property. Additionally, Tim Q. Ly's attorney, Jens-Peter Bergen, wrote to my tenants threatening them to pay the rent to him or face eviction. The tenants left in the middle of the night and I lost the income.
On February 6, 2003, Judge Wayne Douglas, took oral testimony in the forcible entry and detainer action relative to whether the City of Biddeford had, in fact, complied with the statute to foreclose on the Petitioner's right of redemption to contest the city's interest in that portion of her real estate at 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine, in order for the city to offer its interest in a subsequent public sale of its liens. Judge Douglas found that the city had complied with the statute as to only one of the liens for outstanding taxes due in the amount of $1,667.12. As a result of this ruling, Judge Douglas, improperly granted to Mr. Ly, a writ of possession, which Judge Paul Fritzsche,superior court, subsequently sustained on June 3, 2003. (I had filed a complaint in the superior court against the governmental actions involving title to real estate prior to Ly's filing of the FED action. The superior court had not heard the case; this case was by-passed and the FED action was heard. Title was to be determined in the superior court, and is only triable in superior court.)
During Ly's testimony he was asked if he had done a title search. He responded yes, that his lawyer searched the title, yet there is no evidence or report on the title search. Additionally, I had filed a Lis Pendis on my property and Philip had filed a lien on my property for money owed to him. (His lien was not satisfied). Ly also stated that he paid cash ($80,000) to the city, yet an affidavit states he obtained financing. There is no proof of $80,000 certified check (as required) paid by Mr. Ly. Records show that Ly obtained financing at Fleet Bank in August 2002, but paid the city in June 2002. (In May 2003 I received a tax bill from the city. I went to pay it and they accepted my money - one year after they "sold" my property!)
On June 19, 2003, the York County Sheriff's Dept. executed the writ of possession on me stating that I had 48 hours to vacate 22 Graham Street, Biddeford, Maine, or risk arrest for criminal trespass. A summons and complaint was also issued to my only tenant, Philip Castora, with the same directive to vacate or be arrested for criminal trespass.
On June 20, 2003, I sought an emergency injunction from the Supreme Court of Maine, to stop the unlawful taking of my property by Tim Q. Ly. The Maine Supreme Court granted my emergency injunction and ordered the parties to submit legal briefs in accordance with a scheduling order dated June 21, 2003, rather than declare the writ of possession void based upon the record already submitted to the Maine Supreme Court.
On October 10, the Maine Supreme Court found for Tim Q. Ly.
On October 31, 2003 I filed an emergency stay of the writ of possession with the U.S. Supreme Court, pending an appeal to that court. On November 6, 2003 I received a phone call from a reporter with the Associated Press who told me that the U.S. Supreme Court had denied my motion. I heard the same on tv the following morning. I didn't receive an order, nor have I received the certified return receipt card.
After discussions with Dottie and Phil, it appears to me that various characters in the City of Biddeford government, through sheer ineptness as well as purposeful misbehavior have denied Dottie clear title to her property over these past 10+ years, thus preventing her from selling her property and settling this issue a long time ago. To compound the situation, the city government is now attempting to eject her from her property because she is destitute and unable to pay the taxes. If they are able to keep the tax records straight, why can't they straighten out their deed records? The situation boils down to this: Do you own your property or does the government own your property? We are talking fundamental property rights here. If you, like Dottie, are destitute and cannot pay the property taxes on your home, may the government come and sell your home out from under you for money it claims you owe? If you have to pay the government annual "rent" to be "allowed" to stay in your own home, then who really owns your home? Where will Dottie live? She has no other place. She can live, and most likely die, on the street as far as the government is concerned. I say enough is enough. You own your property, not the government. If the government doesn't get a few tax dollars each year because you can't afford to pay them, then I say too bad for the government. You don't kick people out of their homes and make them homeless for a few dollars. The MDPM is dedicated to ensuring that this doesn't happen in Dottie's case.
Dottie's contact information is as follows.
home phone: (207) 283-3130
cell phone: (207) 590-6646
e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://www.geocities.com/maineforum/
Please do not flood her with calls.