County says Grove must pay $ 600 fee to record her deed
Wednesday, May 10, 2000
© Copyright 2000
Staff Writer

OCALA Anne Grove faces a problem to officially reclaiming her property. It will cost her more than $ 600 to record her deed, and she says she doesn't have the money.

As of April 25, county records show the property, at 6130 N.E. 61st.Ave. Road, as being sold to trustee David E.Midgett.

Midgett has since signed a quit-claim deed relinquishing his right to the property and given Grove the key to her home. However, county officials say Grove must pay $ 620.20 in documentary stamps to record the deed in her name. The county is required by law to collect 70 cents per $ 100 on the balance of the mortgage, which is $ 88,572.87.

If Grove doesn't do so, Midgett will be the owner should anything happen to Grove, according to Chief Deputy Clerk Jack Suess.

"In order for her name to be back on the deed, she has to come down to the courthouse and let us know about it so we can put her name back on the deed since it changed hands", Suess said. "therefore, it's important for Mrs. Grove to do this as quick as possible. Right now, if somebody wants to know who owns the home, his name would pop up."

For Grove, it was one more frustrating development.

"Why should I be bothered with this right now?," she said. "Didn't they sign it over to me? I'm sick and tired of it. Right now, I am a nervous wreck."

Grove said the only way, she can raise the money is by not paying some of her other bills.

"I don't have it," she said. "Where am I going to find $ 600 from to confirm something that I know I have a right to? That is not right. Now I don't know what to do."

Grove spent five days in Marion County Jail after she was evicted for not paying $ 1,200 in homeowners' association fees and was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence."

In addition to paying for the documentary stamps, Grove must fill out a one-page document, which Marion County Court officials will enter it into their database as an official record.

"That is why we want her to come down here to us," said Donna Gaffin, coordinator of official records for Marion County. " The Department of Revenue audits us, and if we don't have this on our books, then we can be in trouble."

Suess said the department of Revenue could waive the documentary stamp tax if Groves provides a compelling argument for them to do so.

In the meantime, Palm Chevrolet has come to the aid of Grove by offering to fix her GMC truck, which was towed away but later returned, and take over her $ 500 deductible on her Allstate insurance.

"The public needs to help this poor old lady and I'm doing my part," said Albert Cuillo, owner.
"This is an unfortunate incident."

Friday, May 12, 2000
Attorney tells story of bids
Attorney says Grove ignored calls
 By Susan Latham Carr - Staff Writer
© Copyright 2000

OCALA -- David Midgett was the high bidder on Anne Grove's house, which was foreclosed because she failed to pay her homeowners' fees for five years; He said the 74-year old widow ignored all his attempts to resolve the problem.

Midgett, an attorney with dean & Dean, bid on behalf of a land trust, for which he was trustee. Land often are set up by attorneys for a single land investor or group of investors to buy property. The property purchased is recorded in the trust's name shielding the identity of the participants.

"Mrs. Grove ignored every letter sent to her for five years," Midgett said. She ignored notices of sale, too, and did not return Midgett's calls.

The day before she was evicted, Midgett went to Grove's home.

"I personally visited her at her house to see if there was anything else we could do," Midgett said. He said he went to her home to determine if she was mentally competent and to make her an offer.

"She ordered me off the property. I was there to explore opportunities other than serving the writ of possession." The writ gives the new owner the right to enter and use the home. He said the offer presented was much less than kicking her out of the property.

A lien was placed on Grove's Northeast 61st Avenue Road home for the homeowners fees she owed. Interest, late charges and attorney's fees kept mounting over the time, bringing the total due to the Silver Meadows North Property Owners' Association Inc. to $ 3,986.77.

When Grove ignored repeated letters, calls and summons from the court and the attorneys, the judge ordered the property foreclosed to pay the lien to the homeowners' association.

"I think she believed she couldn't loose her home as long as she was paying her mortgage," Midgett said, "She was legally incorrect. Mrs. Grove was wrong. Her deed restrictions provided she could lose her home."

When the property was put on the block, Midgett was asked by the land trust members to bid on the property.

Midgett was the successful bidder, offering $ 2,400 for the home which is valued at $ 151,000. When buying the foreclosed property, the members of the trust, whom Midgett declined to identify because of client confidentiality, became responsible for paying Grove's $ 88,000 mortgage.

The mortgage was not part of the foreclosure and was never at risk.

"The trust took possession of the property subject to the existing mortgage," he said.

The total cost of the home to the land trust members was $ 90,400, plus sundry expenses. If they could sell the house for its value, minus expenses, they likely could realize a profit of about 
$ 55,000-$ 60,000.

"Still a good investment for the investors," Midgett said. "She would have lost a significant amount of equity," he said about Grove.

The sale came to the public's attention when a Marion County Sheriff's deputy went to Grove's home on April 28 to remove her because she had not vacated the property. According to sheriff's Office reports, Grove bit and hit the deputy, who put her on the floor and handcuffed her. She was arrested and taken to jail, where she remained for five days. Her personal belongings subsequently were placed at the curb, a legal maneuver under Florida Statute 83.62, which protected the trust. By moving the goods to the property line, the trust avoided liability for Grove's property.

There were two attempts to sell Grove's home.

The first time, the high bidder John Maze, bid $ 40,000 against Midgett's $ 39,000 offer. After paying the $ 2,000 deposit, Maze backed out of the deal and forfeited his $ 2,000, which was used to pay expenses to advertise the re-sale of the property, and the balance went to the homeowners' association, which had placed the lien on Grove's home.

At the second bid, the homeowner association's lawyer bid $ 2,300, the balance of what they were owed, and Midgett bid $ 2,400.

"Standard procedure is to bid $ 100 more than the other guy," Midgett said.

After public sympathy  for Grove's plight arose, trust members directed Midgett to return the house to GRove. Grove's criminal charges had been dropped, she was released from jail and was being housed at the Salvation Army.

The trust members gave up the property and Dean & Dean paid the other costs incurred. Midgett said he did not know how much his firm paid but they picked up such expenses as the bid cost, movers, locksmith, process server and documentary stamps to record the trust's deed.

Grove now must pay documentary stamp charges of about $ 620 to re-record the deed in her name. Dean & Dean will not pay those charges.

Midgett denied that there was any bidding collusion between him and the homeowners' association attorney, William King, or with John Maze.

He said King bid the amount his client was owed based on the court's judgment.

"Banks and homeowners' associations rarely bid more than the judgment," Midgett said.

Maze was unaware that there was a mortgage on the property and decided against the deal when he learned of it, Midgett said.

Does he feel sorry for Grove?

"I don't feel any more sympathy for a 74-year-old woman who doesn't pay her bills than I do for a 25-year-old woman with two kids who doesn't pay her bills," Midgett said.