Atlanta man pleads guilty to foreclosure scheme
An Atlanta man may be facing jail time after pleading guilty to racketeering charges in connection with an alleged foreclosure scheme. The man told the court that he was influenced by a group of sovereign citizens, who believe that they each make up their own individual sovereign nationality and are therefore immune to local, state and federal laws.
Specifically, court documents allege, the man was convinced by the leader of the sovereign citizen group to illegally use the quit claim process to transfer the deed of his former home, which he had previously lost to foreclosure, back into his own name. The other members of the group went through this and similar processes in order to gain possession of more than a dozen other homes in Gwinnett, DeKalb and six other Georgia counties.
Essentially, the group broke into the homes and then staked a tenuous and not-entirely-legal ownership of them. To do this, they forged notarized deeds and filed them with county clerks, and then threatened to go to court against the rightful owners of the properties if they tried to evict the group members or sell the homes. This is known by real estate law experts as putting a ‘cloud’ on the home title.
In the Atlanta man’s case, he was charged with attempting to extort the current owner of his former home, offering to remove the deed on the property if the owner paid $45,000 to the ringleader of the sovereign group.
The man was ultimately arrested, along with the other members of the group. He has now pleaded guilty to a violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as of conspiracy to violate that act.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Gwinnett man pleads guilty to stealing foreclosed home,” Marcus K. Garner, Sept. 10, 2012