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would like to thank the Ocala Star Banner for
letting us republish this moving article series!
appoints guardian to Anne M. Grove
The newest Part of the story ( 4 -26 - 2001 )
© Copyright 2000 Starbanner.com
AUSTIN L. MILLER
OCALA — The 74-year-old widow evicted for not paying her homeowners' association fees began a tedious inventory of her possessions friday, a day after she was allowed to return home.
Meanwhile, court documents show Dean and Dean, the law firm that submitted the high bid on Anne Grove's house, paid $ 2,400 for the home, which is valued at more than $ 150,000.
And the mover, who took Grove's belongings
and placed them in front of her house after she was evicted, said two attorneys
with the law firm, including the trustee who held title to the property,
instructed him to do so.
Grove was evicted last Friday after her home was foreclosed was foreclosed on by the Silver Meadows North Property Owners Association and sold at auction to repay $ 1,200 she owed the association. On Thursday, Grove got the keys to her house back after David E. Midgett, the trustee, relinquished his rights to it.
"I'm grateful for the help," said Grove. "Some of my things are missing, but I'm going to continue with my life the best way I know how."
She will continue without many of her possessions, including furniture, cookware, jewelry, clothing and personal effects, which were deposited on the curb shortly after sheriff's deputies pulled her out of the house. Passers-by picked through the items and took what they wanted.
"My rocking chair, a platform rocker, a gold-faced self winding wristwatch, a Colt pistol, Corning-ware, part of an outside swing, lamps and numerous other things are gone thanks to the people, who caused this," said Grove. "The thing that really bothers me is that they came into my home, took my things, put them out in the yard and left it there. How could they do that?"
Sheriff Dean expressed remorse about Grove's things being stolen, and said he "wished everyone involved in the foreclosure and eviction had stepped back and reevaluated what they were doing."
"They should have said, 'Stop. This is grandma, by golly,' " Dean said. The sheriff said when he found out about the incident, he immediately sought her release.
"I feel there is a moral obligation to make her whole," he said.
Documents concerning the April 13 foreclosure sale, over which Judge Jack Singbush presided, show Dean and dean was one of two bidders for the property and submitted a high bid of $ 2,400. The other, listed as "PLTF", bid $ 2,300. Court records show Dean and Dean submitted the bid on behalf of Midgett, to whom Clerk of Court David Ellspermann issued a certificate of title on April 25.
As of February, the Marion County Property appraiser's office valued the home at $ 151,083.
Also Friday, a man who said he moved Grove's belongings out of her house after she was evicted, said Midgett and his partner in the Dean and dean law firm, Jonathan Dean, instructed him to do so. Jonathan Dean is Sheriff Dean's brother and former law partner.
Frank Gray of Gray & Sons Moving said Midgett and dean instructed him to be at the home on April 28 for an eviction notice, An affidavit signed by both Midgett and Dean stated the mover should move contents out of house to curb.
Midgett and Dean could not be reached fir comment on Friday.
"Had I known more details about this job, I would never have done it," said Gray. "When I was going over there, I asked the deputy who was the lady injured and Dean and Midgett if this was legal and they assured me that it was. Personally, I would have loved to move the things in storage."
Both Midgett and Dean were present when the movers went in and removed Grove's things, Gray said.
"Her important items, such as her television set, VCR and other valuables, were not put out instead out inside the garage," said Gray. "A sheriff's deputy was outside the whole time when all things was happening. In all, it took us three hours to do this."
Some silver Meadows North property residents expressed anger at the association's handling of the Grove matter.
"It's just sick, I can't believe that they would do this," said Mary Quigley.
Said charles Fairbanks: "They had no right to put her things at the side of the road. It was handled the wrong way."
In past years the association had trouble collecting association fees from tenants living there. One memo, dated Jan.16, 1998 detailed the problem.
It said the following: " I have enclosed for your review a current list of monies due to the association. With such a large amount due to the association, I think you will agree that collection efforts must be immediate and firm. The board has established Financial Operating Policies and Procedures' to control our funds and establish collection policies. The members who do not pay will have liens filed against their property. For those members who do not respond to any collection efforts, foreclosure action will be considered and if so determined, foreclosure actions will be filed."
But,, in the declaration of protective covenants and restrictions, it mentions nothing about property seizure if an individual does not pay the $ 300-a-year fee which is used to maintain roads, beautification, recreation room, entertainment center, block parties and other things.
With Grove struggling to put the pieces together, neighbors are asking others to come by the home and donate their help.
"Even though this is a bad situation, we
need volunteers to come in and help us," said Julie Creamer.
Austin L. Miller covers community issues and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 867-4128.
The 74-year-old Grove was evicted from her house in Silver spring Meadows North on April 28 after it was foreclosed upon for her failure to pay $1,200 in past-due homeowners association dues dating back to 1994. She had received repeated court notices in the mail about the situation, but apparently did not understand the seriousness of the matter and did not resolve it. When her home, appraised to be worth more than $ 150,000, was purchased in the foreclosure by the Ocala law firm of Dean and Dean for an astoundingly cheap $ 2,400, Circuit Judge Jack Singbush signed papers ordering Grove be removed from her home.
Dean and Dean attorney and property trustee David Midgett and sheriff's deputy Mike Robinson went to Grove's home with a locksmith in tow on April 28, a day after Grove had been given 24 hours notice to be out. The men gained entry to the house, where they found an understandably upset Grove. When Robinson tried to escort the retired 22-year General electric worker from the house, she reportedly fought back, hitting him and biting him on the arm. Robinson eventually subdued Grove, who has a heart condition, and handcuffed her.
The foreclosed-on, evicted and handcuffed Grove was then charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence and carted off to the Marion County Jail. She was locked up in lieu of a $ 10,000 bond that was set after appearing before Circuit Judge Carven Angel.
Unbelievably, Grove sat in jail for five days, during which time her belongings were tossed out of the house for scavengers to pick through and her truck was towed away.
That's when a Star-Banner reporter, who
had heard of Grove's plight, contacted sheriff ed Dean. Dean said he knew
nothing about it, but upon finding out kicked the law enforcement bureaucracy
into gear and had her out of jail in 40 minutes.
Ultimately, Dean intervened with the law firm that bears his name and from which he is retired and helped reverse the foreclosure. On Thursday, Grove returned to her house where friends, neighbors and well-wishers helped put her house and life back together.
We recount the bizarre series of events that turned this quiet widow's life into a nightmare to show how many points along the way that someone could have said, "Wait a minute. This just doesn't seem right. May be someone should give this woman some time, some advice, some HELP!" After all, this woman had no criminal past. She was current in er mortgage payments. She was a widow whose husband had handled household business affairs until his death in 1997. She lived in a nice, respectable neighborhood and was no nuisance to her neighbors.
Why didn't members of a now-embarrassed
homeowners' association board look at the case rationally? To take a person's,
a neighbor's $ 150,000 home for $ 1,200 in association dues is heavy-handed
at best. Why didn't Robinson, and then jailworkers, stop the process and
ask whether foreclosure, eviction and ultimately, jailing might be a bit
harsh for a little old lady who had no criminal past? And didn't Singbush
read the documents? Where is the justice, the fairness in taking a $ 150,000
home to settle a $ 1,200 debt? If Anne Grove had had debts a hundred times
greater than what she owed the homeowners association and had had to file
bankruptcy, she would not have lost her home under current laws. What was
Angel thinking when he arraigned Grove, who anyone could see isn't your
typical jail inmate?
What happened to Anne Grove, while may be legal, wasn't right. No way. No how.
Sheriff Dean reminded each of us that Grove could have been any of our mothers or grandmothers, and his point is not lost on us. With a third of Marion County's population being senior citizens we encourage the agencies and institutions that deal with them on complex matters like foreclosures and evictions to take some time and make sure they understand completely the ramifications of doing nothing.
Marion County Senior services chief Gail Cross put it best while talking to us about Grove's case and others like it involving the elderly. "We need an injection of sensitivity and flexibility and sensibility in a system that's got too much rigidity."
The outpouring of support we are hearing
for Anne Grove - and we've received dozens upon dozens of such calls -
is welcome reassurance that our readers still have compassion for their
neighbor. Now maybe the "system" can find a little, too.