Safeguard Properties: The Evolution Of A Federal Racketeering Case 2:13-CV-00835CB
This is Part 1 in a 4 Part Series.
Alexandra and Anthony Hlista were pursing the American Dream. They paid their bills, they bought a home in Allegheney County, Pennsylvania. They made friends and attended church; they shopped locally and even had some brands of products they liked. They even married in the same county wherein they bought their home. What the Hlista’s DID NOT DO was ask Safeguard Properties (SGP), a Delaware limited liability company doing business in Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, to turn their lives upside down.
Court Documents filed in the United States District Cort For The Western District of Pennsylvania as Civil Action 2:13-CV-00835CB, show that Safeguard Properties, John Bradley Duvall, and Jeff Riems have all been sued for Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) as well as state claims for trespass to property, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress .Seterus Inc. was listed as a “Non-party” and an “enterprise” as defined by RICO, 18 USC 1961(3).
According to the Suit, the Hlistas borrowed money to purchase their home on 31 August 2007. The originating lender sold the servicing rights to CitiMortgage (Citi) soon after purchasing. In November, 2010, Citi sold the rights to Seterus. No foreclosure action was ever filed.
The Hlistas resided peacefully in their home for over five years, until a series of break-ins began in early July 2012. (Quote from the Litigation)
From December 2011 to December 2012 the Hlistas temporarily lived in Charleston, South Carolina, so that Mrs Hlista could attend Charleston Southern University. Nothing illegal about this the last time I checked the Constitution of the United States.
During this period of time, Seterus contacted and contracted Safeguard, and in turn, Safeguard contacted and contracted with Mr. Duval to break into the Hlista’s home, and other homes, on multiple occasions, including but not limited to the Hlista’s home on July 3, 2012, July 13, 2012, July 25, 2012 and December 22, 2012. (Quote from the Litigation)
@ Paragraph 21 and 22: “21. As prearranged on January 24, 2013, Mr. Duvall came to the home to take photographs of the damage. 22. After speaking with Mr. Duvall, Mrs. Hlista realized that she was confronting the same intruder who had been terrorizing her home previously. She was immediately struck with fear. Moreover, Mr. Duvall stated he was not interested in taking pictures, but wanted access to the basement. Mrs. Hlista refused Mr. Duvall’s entry and asked him to leave her property.”
Safeguard has a long history of contracting with persons like Mr. Duval to break into homes and has acknowledged a break-in problem. […] See Vukman v. Safeguard Properties, Inc. et al., No GD-12-005133 (C.P. Allegheny Mar.21, 2012) (Quote from the Litigation)
“[Paragraph] 29. Defendant, John Bradley Duval violated RICO by committing mail and/or wire fraud to further a scheme designed to break-in to the Hlista’s home. The Hlista’s were damaged, including inter alia, extreme emotional distress and anxiety, and damage to their home, as a result.”
“[Paragraph] 30. The association-in-fact between Safeguard and Mr. Duvall — referred to hereafter as the Safeguard-Duvall Enterprise — is an “enterprise” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 1961(4) in so far as this association has (1) a purpose; (2) relationships among those associated; and (3) longevity sufficient to pursue the enterprise’s purpose. The Safeguard-Duvall Enterprise has engaged in, and its activities have affected, interstate commerce. It is believed and therefor[e] averred, that a number of similar break-ins have occurred to other similar Pennsylvania homeowners over a period of 10 years. […]”
Here is where I take point with Ben Hallman of Huffington Post. Hallman’s Articles on the Safeguard problems never even scratched the surface. A pass was given, in my opinion, to Safeguard Properties when questioned about the fact that one of their OWN employees documented case after case after case similar to the Hlistas. While I like and respect Hallman, I am deeply troubled when the lame stream media gives passes or when such is even PERCEIVED!
Many of you out there remember that when I originally began to discuss the problems in this Industry, the language in Paragraphs 29 and 30 were almost identical to my statements. The Cheerleaders out there; the Defenders of these Firms, now have something to chew upon. What is your position today? Is the law firm whom filed this case; the lawyer whom we spoke with personally Mr. Malakoff, “… a bully … ” as well as some people refer to us?
You know what? If I could save JUST ONE FAMILY OR CONTRACTOR THE MISERY THEY ARE EXPERIENCING RIGHT NOW, I AM DAMN PROUD OF BEING A BULLY!!! At then end of the day my ONLY Agenda is to bring a level playing field to the Industry. If that is wrong I stand Guilty! It simply goes to show the reality of the states of mind of those whom condone the Industry as-is.
This is the Rush Limbaugh syndrome. A million people tune into Rush each and every day and tear apart everything he has to say. The Advertising moguls LOVE it! Personally, I LOVE Rush! Right or wrong, Foreclosurepedia stands with the Contractors whom do their own work; not those whom pretend to be Contractors. A simple search of each State’s Business License and Corporation Listings will reveal if a Contractor truly is a Contractor. Then simply search and see if they have Workman’s Comp or an Exemption. That drills down a bit more. Finally, ask them if they do their own work. A Contractor whom does their own work is PROUD of that fact! We also stand resolute in defending the Rights of Homeowners. Ask your Order Mill next time if they have a Writ of Possession. Then ask yourself if you should be doing the work.
Where are all the Organizations out there Cheerleading on this Case? Have they rushed to hold hands and sing Kumbya? Yeah, right.
To keep the record very clear, Mr. Malakoff did not discuss the Case in and of itself nor did he discuss any of the parties involved.
The ugliness of the Property Preservation Industry is going to come to light. There will be two lists that history reflects upon. The people whom furthered the ugliness and those whom took a stand to bring it to an end. What people do not look at is there is right and wrong in the world.
How in G-d’s name do the Cheerleader’s defend this type of action? What gives anyone the right to abuse people in a civilized society? This is FAR beyond simply Contractors being harmed. This case and thousands of others document innocent men, women and children being abused. Anyone whom supports that behavior; ANYONE whom supports not correcting that behavior, is sick.
So, this week Foreclosurepedia is going to get into the breaking down of the laws being discussed in this instant case. Foreclosurepedia does not opine upon whom is innocent or whom is guilty. That is for a jury to decide unless a Settlement is entered into. Perhaps the Case will be dismissed, we do not know. If any of the Parties have a Statement they would like Published we encourage them to reach out to us.
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