Kennesaw, Georgia has solved America’s gun crime problem by legally requiring all citizens to own and carry a gun. (A shame DeKalb County Didn’t Join Them!)


Nation’s Safest Town Requires Citizens To Own A Gun
16MAR 2018
Rape Whistle
Kennesaw, Georgia has solved America’s gun crime problem by legally requiring all citizens to own and carry a gun.
Nation’s Safest Town Requires Citizens To Own A Gun

The Kennesaw, Georgia, law states that “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.”

Dailycaller.com reports: “It was meant to be kind of a crime deterrent,” Kennesaw Police Lt. Craig Graydon, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, told CNN.

“It was also more or less a political statement because the city of Morton Grove, Illinois, passed a city ordinance banning handguns from their city limits.”

Did You Know That Chicago’s “Gun Free Zone” Has A Las Vegas Massacre Every Month?

As for would-be criminals looking for an easy mark, judging by the crime statistics it seems most have bypassed the Georgia town and moved on to easier targets. Even CNN was forced to admit that Kennesaw, populated by 33,000 people, has only had “one murder in the last six years and a violent crime rate of below 2%.”

“But,” writes CNN, “it’s unclear whether that has anything to do with the gun law.”

Kennesaw’s mayor sees it differently.

“If you’re going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you’re the criminal — are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law-abiding citizen?” asked Mayor Derek Easterling.

“It gives me the ability to protect myself as opposed to being somewhere where you weren’t allowed to have a firearm or it was frowned upon,” said Wayne Arnold, a local resident who is a fan of the law.

With the gun issue being in the spotlight of late, town officials have been getting plenty of attention from all over the world about their law.

“We get a lot of calls, conversation, and it seems to keep crime control, gun safety, things like that on the minds of many of the residents, because people are constantly talking about the gun law,” Lt. Graydon told CNN. “So that’s been somewhat of a benefit to us.”

Arnold noted the expectation of a “Wild West” environment with everyone walking around “with a firearm strapped to their side.”

“And it’s not like that,” said Arnold. “It’s strictly a home defense system type of deal. There’s no shootouts down the street.”

And a lot less crime than your average American city.

YourNewsWire

Wyatt Earp
Guns Save 2,191 Lives Each Day In The US: FBI ~ 32 Guns Purchased Every Minute In The US
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DeKalb County Halts Corruption Investigation!

As DeKalb investigators turned up the heat, top officials resisted

Posted: 4:40 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015

By Alan JuddMark Niesse and Johnny Edwards – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mike Bowers glared into the television cameras, cast again in a familiar role: Georgia’s preeminent corruption-buster.

“We’re going to root out conflicts of interest, corruption, malfeasance and misfeasance,” Bowers said, his index finger wagging, “so help me God.”

Thus began an investigation of unprecedented scope into alleged corruption in DeKalb County, the state’s fourth most-populous county and, arguably, its leading producer of government fraud, waste and graft. Bowers, a former state attorney general, and investigator Richard Hyde would have broad authority to identify DeKalb’s miscreants and bring them to justice.

But their efforts were repeatedly undermined by top county officials, some of whom had come under scrutiny themselves, an examination by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. The officials declared some targets off limits, refused to answer questions or provide documents, called in other investigators to supplant Bowers and Hyde, and finally cut the investigation out of the county budget.

Now, after a contentious week in which the investigators described DeKalb as “rotten to the core” and county officials accused Bowers and Hyde of padding their bills through an unending inquisition, the investigation seems on the verge of a spectacular implosion. Lee May, the county’s interim CEO, ordered a final report by Aug. 26 — and nothing else. May hired the investigators in March but soon came under suspicion over a check written to him by a county vendor.

Bowers and Hyde came to this investigation after helping expose the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, the largest in U.S. history. In DeKalb, though, they encountered immutable resistance and hostility, even as officials promised to fracture the county’s culture of corruption.

A simmering mutual distrust erupted Tuesday. Bowers went to a county commission meeting, intending to present an update on the investigation. But he quickly left, obviously angry, when he learned he wouldn’t be allowed to speak. Bowers’ presentation would have overshadowed a vote on a high-profile project: incentives worth $12 million for billionaire Arthur Blank’s organization to build a practice complex for Atlanta’s new Major League Soccer team.

A day later, Bowers and Hyde sent May a 2 1/2-page letter that broadly described their findings so far: runaway spending on items “from petty to the absurd,” an alleged bribery scheme, a cover-up of the theft of county property. They labeled the letter “investigative update,” but it read more like an indictment.

“We have been around government employees and elected officials for over 40 years,” they wrote. “We have investigated and prosecuted public officials and others, often at the highest levels of government in our state. The DeKalb County government we have found is rotten to the core. The misconduct starts at the top and has infected nearly every department we have looked at.”

May responded with a letter blasting the investigators’ “tone” and challenging their veracity, saying they had unleashed “generalized personal attacks on the entire county workforce.” If their final report follows the same theme, he said, Bowers’ law firm, Balch & Bingham, will bear “legal responsibility for all of your actions.”

By the end of the week, Bowers and Hyde were not speaking publicly. Through a spokeswoman, May declined to be interviewed.

County commissioners complained in interviews of investigation-fatigue. Years of corruption prosecutions have landed several officials, most notably CEOBurrell Ellis and former CommissionerElaine Boyer, in prison. Four separate entities – the special investigators, the FBI, the district attorney’s office and the county’s Board of Ethics – had open inquiries. Several commissioners applauded May’s effort to rein in Bowers and Hyde.

But Commissioner Nancy Jester, who represents north DeKalb, said May created the monster he now wants to slay.

“What did he think was going to happen when he said, ‘Investigate us from top to bottom?’” Jester said. “I think the investigation is too close to something, something that he’s uncomfortable with.”

‘No prisoners’

A brief history of scandal in DeKalb County in the 21st century:

A newly elected sheriff was assassinated in 2000, on orders of the corrupt incumbent he had unseated.

A kickbacks-for-contracts scheme flourished, according to a grand jury, while Vernon Jones was the county’s CEO from 2001 through 2008.

In 2013, a school-construction scandal ended with a guilty plea from a former school superintendent, Crawford Lewis, and prison terms for his chief operating officer and her former husband.

And so far this year, both Boyer and Ellis have entered prison, the FBI has continued looking into payoffs, and county prosecutors have pored over a grand jury report outlining corruption schemes big and small.

It was in this image-tainting environment that May, appointed interim CEO after Ellis’ indictment in 2013, decided to authorize anindependent investigation. Appearing at a news conference with Bowers on March 18, he seemed to fully appreciate the upheaval that could result.

“He’s a man that takes no prisoners and will do what it takes to preserve the public’s confidence and integrity in our government,” May said.

He added: “I think Mike could throw me in jail if he thinks I’m doing something wrong. This administration is willing to take on an endeavor that could possibly go even to my office, and I’m fine with that.”

In fact, the investigators soon began looking into allegations involving May.

The Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News reported that May received a $4,000 check from a company the county hired to clean up damage from a sewer-line backup at his home. Five months later, the county awarded the company a $300,000 contract. May has said he never received the check or its proceeds.

But on April 15, according to documents obtained by the Journal-Constitution and Channel 2, an investigator met with a source “regarding knowledge of construction and restoration services … relating to a flood at the home of Lee May.”

Twelve days later, Hyde also interviewed a witness about the same work, the documents indicate. It is not clear whether both interviews were with the same person.

By the end of April, the documents show, the investigators had gathered information from at least 12 confidential informants. This led them to examine several large county contracts, including ones for mobile communications, for garbage receptacles provided to residences, and for the purchase of motor vehicles. The investigators showed special interest in three county agencies: the sanitation, watershed and fleet management departments.

They also began investigating allegations of a bribe paid to a specific county official, identified in documents only as “#5.”

Within weeks, according to bills submitted to the county, the investigators compiled an astonishing amount of documentation. By April 20, material provided by 10 confidential informants filled three binders, each with 1,200 pages.

As eager as whistleblowers were to talk, though, high-ranking DeKalb officials wanted nothing to do with the investigation.

‘We’re not hiding’

On July 28, Bowers had a letter hand-delivered to Robert James, DeKalb’s district attorney. It was a request under Georgia’s Open Records Act to obtain public documents showing how James and 12 of his current or former employees had used their county-issued purchasing cards. The request – one that any citizen could make – seemed straightforward. But not to James.

The district attorney already viewed the special investigators’ work as a waste of taxpayers’ money – especially when his Public Integrity Unit needed more funding to clear a backlog of corruption cases. Two years ago, a special grand jury recommended criminal investigations of a dozen officials and contractors; so far, James’ office has tried only Ellis.

So James balked. He didn’t make the requested documents available within three days, as state law requires, and did not communicate with Bowers. Instead, he complained directly to May.

In interviews last week, James said the CEO told him he didn’t have to comply with Bowers’ request because May’s executive order authorizing the investigation did not cover the district attorney’s office. May followed up with a letter on July 31.

“Dear Robert,” it began. “I would like to sincerely apologize for the recent letter you received from the special investigators regarding the open records request. I will be reaching out to the special investigators to inform them that this action is beyond the scope of the executive order.”

While the executive order didn’t specify the district attorney’s office for investigation, it didn’t exclude it, either. And it was Bowers, not May, who requested the documents. Bowers and Hyde told the county commission last week that department heads who ignored open records requests “today are in violation of state law.”

James bristled at that suggestion.

“Mr. Bowers works for the CEO’s office, correct?” he said Friday. “And Mr. Bowers is asking on behalf of the CEO’s office, correct? … Mr. Bowers is the agent of the CEO’s office. When the person that has the authority tells us that he is rescinding the order, and then he sends out a letter saying it’s beyond the scope, I haven’t violated any laws.”

For the sake of what he called “transparency,” James sent the material Bowers requested to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation – which had not asked for the documents and apparently was not looking into DeKalb’s county government.

“If I’m going to give that information over, I’m going to give it over to the appropriate authorities and not a paid consultant,” James said. “We’re not hiding anything. I’m just not going to participate in an investigation I don’t agree with.”

The GBI has opened a preliminary inquiry at James’ request, said Sherry Lang, a spokeswoman for the agency.

So now five investigations are underway.

Picayune focus

When they began work in DeKalb, Bowers and Hyde were fresh off their house-cleaning investigation of the Atlanta schools. Their work in Atlanta provided a foundation for a criminal case that ended with guilty verdicts for 11 former educators and guilty pleas from 21 others.

But in Atlanta, they had subpoena power to compel witnesses to give statements under oath. They had dozens of GBI agents at their disposal to interview teachers and principals across the city. And they had an unwavering commitment from the man who commissioned their inquiry: then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.

In DeKalb, May set the parameters for their work. That created complications the investigators would have faced in Atlanta only if they had been appointed by the school superintendent, Beverly Hall, who was later charged with racketeering for her role in the cheating scandal.

“Lee wanted to sort of make it feel like what happened at APS, because that was the beginning of the cleanup at APS,” DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader of west-central DeKalb said. “But the circumstances are different and, moreover, Lee was apparently exerting some discretionary authority over what (Bowers) was investigating. That’s not what the governor did.”

So even though Bowers and Hyde made what seemed to be a pointed reference to May in their letter to the commission – “the misconduct starts at the top” – the CEO and his allies focused on the more picayune misdeeds the investigators cited.

The letter said officials used purchasing cards to buy a Christmas tree, to pay an entertainer, to cover a cruise to the Bahamas. But May and commissioners shot back with explanations: the tree may have been a lobby decoration for a county building, the entertainer performed at an official gathering, the cruise was a customer-service award for a county employee.

“I would have expected more professionalism,” Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson of southeast DeKalb said of the investigators’ letter. “If there’s any wrongdoing (Bowers has) found, I’d like to see it in the report and given to the appropriate authorities. But to indict an entire county as rotten to the core, I feel that’s a little irresponsible.”

Complaints also mounted about the investigation’s cost. Through June, Bowers’ law firm had charged the county $673,504, based on hourly rates as high as $400.

So far, the county has paid less than half the firm’s bill – a fact that May suggested could have motivated the investigators’ inflammatory letter to the commission.

But Viola Davis, a citizen watchdog who leads the DeKalb Unhappy Taxpayer and Voter group, said she had received tips from county employees about matters similar to those cited in the investigators’ letter.

“To tell you the truth,” Davis said, “a lot of this stuff needs to be handled by the FBI, because it’s so easy to come up with excuses and try to cover it up.”


DeKalb Commission remains 2 representatives down

 By Mark Niesse

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/dekalb-commission-remains-2-representatives-down/ng82P/

Photo: DeKalb Commission nominee George Turner photo
George Turner, nominee for DeKalb District 5 Commissioner

The DeKalb County Commission’s five remaining members delayed a vote Tuesday to select a temporary commissioner, leaving the body with five of seven seats filled.

The Commission had been scheduled to vote on the appointment of George Turner, an involved member of the southeast DeKalb community, to fill the seat previously held by Interim CEO Lee May, representing about 140,000 residents. But Commissioner Stan Watson made a motion to hold the vote next month, and it passed unanimously without debate.

The other vacant seat belonged to former Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who resigned Monday. Her north DeKalb seat will be filled in a special election.

The southeast DeKalb district seat hasn’t been filled for more than a year since May became the county’s chief executive when Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to replace suspended CEO Burrell Ellis, who is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Ellis faces charges that he pressured and threatened county contractors for campaign contributions.

——————-

Updated: 4:13 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 | Posted: 10:11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014

DeKalb Commissioner Boyer could serve prison time

By Johnny Edwards and Mark Niesse

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/criminal-charges-filed-against-former-dekalb-commi/ng82z/

Those We Look to for Protection

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corrupt  photo

Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

U.S. Attorney Sally Yates (center) announces that ten local police officers have been arrested on corruption charges in a press conference at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday Feb. 12th, 2013.

By Steve Visser

Staff

Federal authorities announced the arrest of 10 metro law enforcement officers Tuesday on charges of arranging protection for a street gang’s drug deals.

“Obviously the breadth of the corruption is very troubling,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates . “It is certainly the most (officers) this office has charged in a long time.”

The case began as a street gang investigation by the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose undercover agents learned that gangs had officers on the payroll for protection, Yates said. The FBI took command of the public corruption aspects of the case.

At least one officer recommended that the gang use a school parking lot to exchange drugs for cash because trading backpacks there would not look suspicious, Yates said at a 2 p.m. news conference.

The law enforcement officers arrested today were: Atlanta Police Department Officer Kelvin Allen, 42, of Atlanta; DeKalb County Police Department Officers Dennis Duren, 32, of Atlanta and Dorian Williams, 25, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Forest Park Police Department Sergeants Victor Middlebrook, 44, of Jonesboro, Georgia and Andrew Monroe, 57, of Riverdale, Georgia; MARTA Police Department Officer Marquez Holmes, 45, of Jonesboro, Georgia; Stone Mountain Police Department Officer Denoris Carter, 42, of Lithonia, Georgia, and contract Federal Protective Services Officer Sharon Peters, 43, of Lithonia, Georgia. Agents also arrested two former law enforcement officers: former DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office jail officers Monyette McLaurin, 37, of Atlanta, and Chase Valentine, 44, of Covington, Georgia.

Civilians arrested today were: Shannon Bass, 38, of Atlanta; Elizabeth Coss, 35, of Atlanta; Gregory Lee Harvey, 26, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Alexander B. Hill, 22, of Ellenwood, Georgia; and Jerry B. Mannery, Jr., 38, of Tucker, Georgia.

Some of the officers were retired and some were active duty. The highest rank was sergeant and the payoffs ranged as high as $7,000 per transaction. Each transaction involved at least five kilograms of cocaine, which carries a 10 year minimum sentence, Yates said.

Officers were involved in multiple transactions, provided escorts to dealers and buyers and offered to provided muscle if necessary to protect their clients, Yates said.

Yates said the investigation is ongoing and declined to say whether more officers would be arrested.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Scott Sweetow would not name the street gang involved but he suggested the public corruption aspects would be more far-ranging.

“I can say this is probably not the last you will be hearing of this case,” he said.

A press release from Yates’ office detailed the following allegations:

DeKalb County Police Department

Between October 2011 and November 2011, DeKalb County Police Officer Dennis Duren, working together with Bass, provided protection for what he and Bass believed were four separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Duren and Bass accepted cash payments totaling $8,800 for these services. During the transactions, Duren was dressed in his DeKalb County Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt, as he patrolled on foot in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place. After the first two transactions, Duren allegedly offered to drive his patrol vehicle to future transactions for an additional $800 fee, and afterward received an additional $800 in cash for using his patrol vehicle in the final transaction in November 2011. Duren and Bass are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Duren also is charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Between January and February 2013, DeKalb County Police Officer Dorian Williams, working together with Mannery and Bass, provided protection for what he and Mannery believed were three separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Williams and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $18,000 for these services. During the transactions, Williams was dressed in his DeKalb County Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt, and he patrolled the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place in his DeKalb Police vehicle. During a meeting between the three transactions, Williams allegedly instructed Bass to remove any cocaine from the scene if Williams had to shoot someone during the upcoming sale. In another meeting, Williams suggested that future drug transactions should take place in the parking lot of a local high school during the afternoon, so that the exchange of backpacks containing drugs and money would not look suspicious. Williams and Mannery are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Stone Mountain Police Department

Between April and September 2012, Stone Mountain Police Officer Denoris Carter, working together with Mannery, provided protection for what he and Mannery believed were five separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Carter and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $23,500. For all five transactions, Carter dressed in his Stone Mountain Police uniform. In four of the deals, he arrived in his police cruiser and either patrolled or parked in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and watched the transactions. During the final transaction in September 2012, Carter was on foot, displaying a firearm in a holster on his belt, and he walked through the parking lot in which the transaction took place and watched the participants. Finally, during one of the transactions, Carter agreed to escort the purchaser of the sham cocaine in his police vehicle for several miles, until the purchaser reached Highway 78. Carter is charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Atlanta Police Department

Between June and August 2012, Atlanta Police officer Kelvin D. Allen, working together with Coss, provided protection for what he and Coss believed were three separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Allen and Coss accepted cash payments totaling $10,500 for their services. For two transactions, Allen dressed in his Atlanta Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt. Allen patrolled on foot in parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and appeared to be monitoring the transactions. During a meeting after the three transactions, a cooperator gave Allen and Coss each a $1,000 bonus payment in return for protecting the three transactions. Allen and Coss are each charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Allen also is charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

MARTA Police Department

Between August and November 2012, MARTA Police Department Officer Marquez Holmes, working together with Coss, provided protection for what he and Coss believed were four separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Holmes and Coss accepted cash payments totaling $9,000. During the transactions, Holmes was dressed in his MARTA Police uniform and carried a gun in a holster on his belt. In two of the transactions, Holmes patrolled on foot in the parking lots in which the undercover sales took place and monitored the transactions. During the other two deals, Holmes drove to the site in his MARTA police cruiser and parked next to the vehicles in which the undercover drug sale took place. Holmes is charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Forest Park Police Department

Between October to December 2012, Forest Park Police Sergeants Victor Middlebrook and Andrew Monroe, sometimes working alone and at other times together, provided protection for what they believed were six separate drug deals in the Atlanta area, all involving multiple kilograms of cocaine. For his services in the first four transactions, Middlebook accepted cash payments totaling $13,800. During these transactions, Middlebrook wore plain clothes, but displayed his badge and a firearm in a holster on his belt. He patrolled on foot in the parking lots nearby the vehicles in which the undercover sales took place and appeared to be monitoring the transactions. For the final two transactions, both Middlebrook and Monroe provided security and were given cash payments totaling $10,400. Middlebrook again monitored the transactions on foot in plain clothes while displaying his badge and gun, while Monroe watched from his vehicle in the parking lot and afterward escorted the purchaser of the sham cocaine for several miles. Middlebrook and Monroe are charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine; Middlebrook is also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office

In January 2013, former DeKalb County Sheriff Jail Officer Monyette McLaurin, working together with Harvey, provided protection for what they believed were two separate drug transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. Harvey already had provided security for two undercover drug transactions in December 2012, falsely representing that he was a DeKalb County detention officer and wearing a black shirt with the letters “SHERIFF” printed across the back during the transactions. Harvey then stated that he knew other police officers who wanted to protect drug deals, and in January 2013 he introduced McLaurin as one of these officers. During a meeting to discuss future drug transactions, McLaurin falsely represented that he was a deputy employed by the DeKalb Sheriff’s office, even though his position as a jail officer ended in 2011. McLaurin and Harvey further stated during this meeting that they may need to kill another person who knew that Harvey had protected drug deals, if this person reported the activity to others.

During the two transactions in January 2013, McLaurin was dressed in a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office uniform with a badge, and he carried a gun in a holster on his belt. He accompanied the undercover seller of the cocaine to pick up the drugs from a warehouse, counted the kilograms the seller received, and stood outside the purchaser’s vehicle during the actual transaction. He further discussed with the seller whether they should agree upon a signal for the seller to indicate that the sale had gone awry, requiring McLaurin to shoot the drug buyer. For their services, McLaurin and Harvey were paid $12,000 in cash. McLaurin and Harvey are each charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Later in January 2013, McLaurin and Harvey introduced a second former DeKalb County Sheriff’s Jail Officer, Chase Valentine, to help provide security for future drug deals. Like McLaurin, Valentine falsely represented himself to be a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Deputy, even though his position as a jail officer ended in 2010. Together with Harvey, Valentine provided security for one undercover drug transaction on January 17, 2013, during which he wore a DeKalb Sheriff’s Office uniform and a pistol in a holster on his belt. During the transaction, Valentine escorted the seller to pick up the sham cocaine, counted the number of kilograms delivered, and stood outside the purchaser’s car during the actual transaction. For these services, Valentine received $6,000 in cash. Valentine is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Federal Protective Services

In November 2012, Sharon Peters, who was a contract officer for the Federal Protective Services, worked together with Mannery to provide protection for what they believed were two separate transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. For these services, Peters and Mannery accepted cash payments totaling $14,000. For both transactions, Peters parked her vehicle nearby the cars where the sham drugs and money were exchanged, and watched the transactions. Before both transactions, Peters told others that she had her pistol with her in the car. Peters is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Imposter Clayton County Police Officer

Between December 2012 and January 2013, Alexander B. Hill falsely represented himself to be an officer with the Clayton County Police Department while providing security for what he believed were three separate drug transactions in the Atlanta area that involved multiple kilograms of cocaine. During an initial meeting, Hill wore a uniform that appeared to be from Clayton Police, but during the transactions he wore plain clothes and, for at least the first deal, a badge displayed on his belt. For these services, Hill received payments totaling $9,000 in cash. Hill charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

DeKalb County Strikes Again!!!

http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/news/2012/05/09/3am-home-eviction-in-dekalb-sparks-outrage.html

3am Home Eviction in DeKalb Sparks Outrage

Written By: APN STAFF

5-9-2012

By Scott Brown, Special to the Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) DEKALB COUNTY — In the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 02, 2012, over twenty deputies from the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department, under orders from Sheriff Thomas Brown, drilled the locks and kicked in the doors of the Christine Frazer’s home with guns drawn in order to evict four generations of family members.

Frazer, the homeowner, had fallen behind on her mortgage payments and was foreclosed upon in October 2011.

According to Frazer, her family members, including her 85-year-old mother and 3-year-old grandson, were told by officers to “act like it was a fire drill” and grab what they could and get out.

Frazer said they were not even allowed a shower before being escorted from her home of eighteen years at three in the morning.

She described the event as “literally a nightmare.”

Her three dogs were taken to the pound and all of her belongings were put out on the street, which police had completely closed off.

At a press conference in front of her belongings hours after the eviction, Frazer lamented, “I’ve been in this home eighteen years. My daughter was raised here. My husband died here. My grandson came home here. This is my home.”

“They came in as if they were executing a warrant to find drugs. It makes no sense,” Frazer’s lawyer, Joshua Davis, said of the eviction.

Sheriff Thomas Brown told Fox 5 television news that he attributed the unusual timing and the large number of officers used in the eviction to the presence of Occupy Atlanta protesters who had been camping in the yard for the past four months in an attempt to prevent what they described as an illegal eviction based on an illegal foreclosure.

Frazer has filed a lawsuit, which is currently pending in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, against the company that foreclosed on her home last October, Investors One Corporation.

Ownership of the mortgage has changed three times in the past six months and, according to Frazer’s lawyer, the chain of title was broken when the previous owner of the mortgage, a bank based in Indiana, failed to uphold their legal obligation to transfer the title, rendering the foreclosure by Investors One Corporation fraudulent.

“There are judges that are in place that could have done a little research, if they’d done a little title search they’d have seen that something in the milk wasn’t clean,” Frazer said.

Frazer, 63, began to fall behind on her mortgage payments after losing her husband and her job in 2009. She has been unable to find a job ever since and is currently on early retirement social security.

Sheriff Brown told Fox 5 he gave the homeowner ample time to reach a settlement with the mortgage holder before serving the eviction notice.

Frazer said she tried to restructure the mortgage, but Investors One Corporation was uncooperative and intent on foreclosure, only offering to reinstate the loan if she was able to pay 20,000 dollars in cash. Currently she has paid over 240,000 dollars on the mortgage on a house currently appraised at only 40,000 dollars.

On Monday, May 07, 2012, in response to the early morning eviction ordered by Sheriff Thomas Brown, Occupy Atlanta held a protest in front of the Dekalb County Sheriff’s office.

At one point, more protesters pulled up in a van full of Frazer’s belongings, and Occupy Atlanta unloaded mattresses, furniture, and bags of other items that deputies had left on the curb nearly one week prior and piled them in front of the doors to the Sheriff’s Office, along with signs reading “Fraudclosure” and “Wall St. criminals are not convicted. The people are evicted.”

Standing before a pile of her belongings in front of the Sheriff’s Office during a press conference, Frazer said, “This is not just about me and my family, this is about families across America.”

Frazer is certainly not alone in her struggle to keep her home. According to Corelogic, Inc., a company specializing in financial analysis, over 1.4 million homes in the US are currently in the foreclosure process, and states like Georgia have been ground zero in the housing crisis.

A recent Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report shows Metro Atlanta home prices fell 17.3 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, a fact that is fueling the continuing foreclosure crisis in the state.

Occupy Atlanta has taken up home defense as a tactic for combating what protesters view as unfair and illegal practices by banks and the financial industry as a whole.

Leila Abadir, one of the Occupy Atlanta protesters who had been camping on the lawn at the Frazer household, says the fight is not over. Occupy Atlanta will continue to assist the Frazer family in finding proper housing, she said.

They will also keep working to shed light on what she believes to be unethical and potentially criminal activity on the part of Investors One Corporation.

According to Fox 5, after most of the protesters left the sheriff’s office, police surrounded a remaining protester’s vehicle, which they impounded for possible evidence. They issued two citations to two people for littering and arrested one of them because he did not have identification on him.

Daily Report: Public shut out of Georgia courts

http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleFriendlyDRO.jsp?id=1202561653020

Public shut out of Georgia courts

R. Robin McDonald

Daily Report

07-03-2012

Judges across Georgia are closing courtrooms to the general public, citing as reasons a lack of space and security concerns.

They are doing so even though the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2010 vacated a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that had upheld the closure of a DeKalb County courtroom and the removal of members of the public during jury voir dire. The U.S. justices said at the time that courtrooms should remain open to the public except in rare circumstances.

Since then, courtroom closures have been challenged in DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb and Towns counties in Georgia’s appellate courts. Two weeks ago, the Southern Center for Human Rights sued the Cordele Judicial Circuit, claiming that its superior court judges are continuing to bar public access to court hearings despite a consent agreement in 2004 that they would stop the practice.

The appellate challenges to closed courtrooms across the state have garnered mixed success, but Judicial Qualifications Commission officials are concerned.
Closing courtrooms, said JQC Chairman John Allen, “could be a violation” of state judicial canons “depending on the set of facts surrounding the closing.”

JQC director Jeffrey Davis told the Daily Report that in his work observing judges in action around the state, he is often met at the courtroom doors by local deputies who ask for his credentials and question why he is there.

“I’ve personally experienced the chill that members of the public would feel,” he said. “I’m a lawyer. It’s not that I’m under-dressed for court.”
Once a member of the public has passed through courthouse metal detectors or security at a courthouse entrance, Davis said, “No citizens should be questioned about the reason they are in a public courtroom.”

But, he continued, “It seems to be the modus operandi around the state for courts to have deputies who question those who are simply in the court without business before the court. People ought to be able to watch their government in action. And justice which is done in secret—or a feeling by those who are coming to the courthouse that somehow they don’t have a right to be there—chills the public’s ability not only to access the courts but also to have confidence in the judicial system.”

DeKalb County
Last year, DeKalb State Court Judge Barbara Mobley resigned her post to end a JQC ethics investigation that included allegations she had interfered with the public’s access to a public courtroom. Mobley posted signs that restricted access to court hearings and directed court personnel to ask court observers to identify themselves and state their business, “thereby chilling the public’s right to observe matters before the court,” according to the JQC’s report to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The Daily Report reported last year that Mobley was one of a number of DeKalb judges who had posted signs on their courtroom doors limiting courtroom access to criminal defendants, their lawyers and alleged victims. The sign on Mobley’s door said, “We do not have space for extra people.”

Allen told the Daily Report last week that after Mobley resigned, he asked the DeKalb judges “to please meet and reconsider their policy of automatically closing their courtrooms as opposed to making a case-by-case decision.”

“Openness of course is such a basic principle of the law in Georgia jurisprudence and U.S. constitutional jurisprudence,” Allen continued. “You erode the confidence in the integrity and fairness of the courts by closing the courts as a matter of course.”

“Ours was just a courtesy call,” he said, “so that the conduct of the court didn’t rise to the level of being egregious.”

Allen said he also reminded the DeKalb bench of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Presley v. Georgia, 130 S. Ct. 721, which slapped the Georgia Supreme Court for upholding a decision by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Linda Hunter to close her courtroom during jury selection in a criminal case.

In its ruling vacating the Georgia decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial extends to the voir dire of prospective jurors and that, “Trial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accommodate public attendance at criminal trials.”

The decision did allow for exceptions, holding that, “The right to an open trial may give way in certain cases to other rights or interests, such as the accused’s right to a fair trial or the government’s interest in inhibiting disclosure of sensitive information.”

But, it stated, “Such circumstances are rare, however, and the balance of interests must be struck with special care. The party seeking to close a hearing must advance an overriding interest that is likely to be prejudiced, the closure must be no broader than necessary to protect that interest, the trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceeding, and it must make findings adequate to support the closure.”

Last year, DeKalb Chief State Court Chief Judge Wayne Purdom told the Daily Report that he posted signs limiting access to his courtroom on days when he heard jail pleas, when numerous prisoners were in court or on arraignment days when as many as 100 people might need seats. On those days, he said, members of the public were only admitted “by request.”

While acknowledging that courtroom access “is a public right,” Purdom told the Daily Report that “regulation of entrance to the courtroom is a case-by-case situation.”
Purdom also agreed that signs barring entry might have “a little bit of a chilling effect.” But, he continued, “I think there are limited situations where control of access is appropriate, although keeping the public out is not.”

Fulton challenges
Last month Atlanta attorney Brian Steel argued before the Georgia Court of Appeals that a judge’s decision to close a Fulton County courtroom had violated a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights.

Steel appealed the decision of then-Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington, who in the 2009 rape trial of Corsen Stewart apparently barred the public, including the defendant’s mother, from the courtroom during jury voir dire in a situation nearly identical to the DeKalb closure that led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Steel, who was not Stewart’s lawyer during the trial, said he took the case on appeal after Stewart’s mother came to see him, told him she had been locked out of the courtroom when attorneys were questioning potential jurors for her son’s case and burst into tears in his office.

In 2010, Steel asked the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the 2006 Fulton County murder conviction of Travion Reed, basing one argument  on Judge Craig Schwall Sr.’s decision to close the courtroom during the testimony of two witnesses. Prosecutors countered that the courtroom’s closure was warranted because the two witnesses in question feared for their safety. A third witness in the case had been shot a short time after the murder, and a fourth witness had been threatened with a screwdriver in an attack that prosecutors claimed was likely linked to the defendant.

At the time, neither Reid nor his attorney objected. That omission proved critical to the Georgia Supreme Court which—three weeks after its decision in Presley was vacated—affirmed Schwall’s decision to bar public access to his courtroom during the testimony.

Steel did not represent Reed at his trial.

In an opinion written by Justice George Carley, the high court held 6-1 that in order to prevail, Reid “must show that he was prejudiced by counsel’s decision not to object to the brief closing of the courtroom. … Indeed, to hold otherwise would encourage defense counsel to manipulate the justice system by intentionally failing to object in order to ensure an automatic reversal on appeal.”

But Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, the lone dissenting vote, countered that, “No reason was articulated to support closing the courtroom” for the two witnesses when “closure was not sought for others who not only might have been, but actually were, placed in peril because of their testimony.”

“The trial court’s findings were clearly inadequate to support closure of the courtroom,” her dissent stated. “Moreover, the trial court failed to consider any alternatives to closure,” she said.

“Although the majority concludes that Reid has not shown prejudice,” Hunstein concluded, “Reid is not required to do so in order to obtain relief for a structural error which was a violation of the public-trial right.”

Steel said last week that “Prejudice is pretty hard to show when you’re closing a courtroom. It’s an almost unobtainable bar that the Supreme Court set.”
Steel said that in the Stewart appeal he argued before the state appellate court on June 13, “I’m challenging the Reid decision. … It’s primed to have a new discussion about it.”

Fulton County is not the only place where Steel has challenged closed courtrooms. In 2010, Steel also asked the Court of Appeals to overturn a Towns County defendant’s conviction because the judge moved jury selection to a nearby church and barred the public, including the defendant’s wife and daughter, from attending. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction last March on other grounds without addressing the courtroom closure.

Cordele claims
Last month the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta filed suit against the Cordele Judicial Circuit’s three superior court judges and the sheriffs of Ben Hill and Crisp counties in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Georgia in Albany, claiming that county court officials are systemically barring the public from criminal court hearings that they say should be open to the public.

Stephen Bright, the center’s president and senior counsel, noted that in 2003, as part of a larger civil rights suit on behalf of the county’s indigent defendants, the Southern Center accused circuit officials of restricting public access to the courts. But Bright said the 2003 suit was dismissed in 2004 after circuit officials promised that courtrooms would remain open.

John Pridgen, chief superior court judge of the Cordele Circuit and a defendant in both suits, has called the 2003 allegations “complete fabrications” claiming, “There was never anything inappropriate about what we did then and what we do now.”

Another Cordele Circuit judge noted in a letter filed with the Southern Center’s complaint that the courtroom in the Crisp County Law Enforcement Center is particularly small, with limited seating.

Southern Center attorney Gerry Weber told the Daily Report last month that the center also has received anecdotal evidence that other courtrooms are being closed “in a lot of different places” across the state and is launching an investigation to determine the extent of the problem.

‘Keeps us free’
Courtroom public access issue came to the fore in Cobb County last year, when former Governor Roy Barnes secured the dismissal of an indictment against the CEO of the Cobb EMC because the grand jury presentments were made inside the new courthouse while its doors were locked and deputies barred access via a separate catwalk entrance.

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the indictment’s dismissal in March, ruling that, “The Georgia Supreme Court has held that any failure to return the indictment in open court is per se injurious to the defendant.”

Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who dissented in the state Supreme Court’s Presley decision, said in an interview with the Daily Report that the U.S. Supreme Court opinion vacating Georgia’s Presley decision “made it pretty clear … that you cannot, as a matter of policy, close courtrooms.”
In her dissent in Presley, Sears specifically addressed arguments based on lack of space.

“A room that is so small that it cannot accommodate the public,” she wrote, “is a room that is too small to accommodate a constitutional criminal trial.”
But the former chief justice, now a partner at Schiff Hardin, told the Daily Report that judges still may close a courtroom “in very narrow circumstances.” But their reasons  for doing so, “have to be well articulated,” she said. “It has to be on a case-by-case basis … It also has to be a last resort.”

Sears said she doesn’t belittle judges who struggle with issues of space and security.

“That’s what created the majority in the Presley case,” she said. “It wasn’t that the judges felt you should keep people out. They saw what a problem it was in these tiny courtrooms trying to manage things. You get very sympathetic when a trial judge is trying to … keep things secure.”

The issue, she explained, is one of competing values. But to trump the value of open courtrooms, she said, “would take some effort. … Public access is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. It’s what keeps us free.” 

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Daily Report: Public shut out of Georgia courts

Daily Report: Robin Hood lawyer fights foreclosures with a passion

 

http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleFriendlyDRO.jsp?id=1202559725985

‘Robin Hood’ lawyer fights foreclosures with a passion

Katheryn Hayes Tucker

Daily Report

06-18-2012

For 34 years, Robert Thompson Jr. had been a business and labor lawyer — as was his father before him — defending corporations and financial institutions and even serving on several banks’ boards of directors.

But something happened to him two and half years ago that changed his entire practice. Now, he challenges banks and financial institutions in court, accusing them of wrongful foreclosure and outright fraud on behalf of individuals who are a step away from losing their homes.

The turning point for Thompson came at Christmas time, 2009. His mortgage servicer — with whom he had been embroiled in disputes over what he said were misapplied or lost checks, late fees for payments that had been made on time, unnecessary insurance costs and double billings for taxes — moved to foreclose on his home.

“I was a single father with three young children living with me in that house,” the silver-haired Thompson said during an interview in his Buckhead Thompson Law Group office filled with books about the financial industry and the economic crisis. “It was very upsetting.”

But, he added, “I was the wrong person to pick on about injunctions and bank law.”

On Dec. 28, 2009, he went before Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger, asking for an order enjoining the mortgage company from proceeding with the foreclosure. The judge’s first question was, “How much do you owe?” Thompson recalled.

“I told him I didn’t owe anything, that my payments had all been made on time, and that in fact they owed me more than $50,000 in overpayments and mystery fees,” Thompson recalled.

“Can you prove it?” the judge asked.

Thompson recalled he pointed the judge to canceled checks and FedEx receipts, and the judge granted Thompson’s injunction. Thompson filed a lawsuit against his loan servicer for mortgage fraud and abuse, wrongful foreclosure, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, conversion, misrepresentation, defamation, libel and deceit.

“People started talking about it,” Thompson said. “I thought it was just me, but then people started calling saying they had the same problem and wanting to know if I could help them.”

Now, Thompson is a man obsessed. And he said he’s had success halting foreclosures — but acknowledged securing such an injunction for a client is only the first step.

Thompson said he still has new clients coming to his office daily. Most don’t have the exact situation as his, where the payments were current but not applied to the account. The biggest percentage, he said, are struggling because of a loss of income and are seeking loan modifications to make payments more manageable, but were told by their mortgage holder they weren’t eligible either because they weren’t behind or far enough behind.

Thompson said being behind on mortgage payments isn’t a requirement of federally funded modification programs. But, on the assumption that it was, he said, his clients missed payments in hopes of qualifying for modifications, then found themselves in foreclosure with their lender refusing to accept more payments. Thompson calls that being “lured into default.”

Out of hundreds of cases he’s reviewed in the past two and a half years, he said, there wasn’t a single one where he didn’t find fraud or at least errors in the records. So far, he said, he has not yet been able to say to a homeowner, “I can’t help you because the bank did everything right.”

Bank representatives say it’s absurd to suggest banks want to foreclose if there are other options. They admit some paperwork mistakes happen but suggest it’s not right to make those a basis for loan forgiveness.

Meanwhile, Thompson is ordering up forensic audits — at a minimum of $1,000 each — to ferret out problems so that he can go to court to block foreclosures. A forensic auditing company analyzes the loan activity and tracks the transfers of deed and title as the loan has been sold by one financial company to another — and sometimes to several others.

Sometimes, Thompson said, he finds the foreclosing lender has already sold the note and collected the balance, and thus doesn’t have the legal right to foreclose. Often Thompson finds what he calls a “break in the chain of title” because the deed and the note have not been kept together in the transactions, which he said is illegal.

He can’t charge the homeowners the hourly rates he used to bill his corporate clients. Some can hardly pay anything. Occasionally, he said, he just offers free advice on how to fight a foreclosure pro se. Most of the time he negotiates a flat fee varying in amounts according to the work that needs to be done and the client’s ability to pay. “I have to make it affordable or they can’t do it,” he said. “But I can’t do it for free.”

He is especially busy the week before the first Tuesday of every month, when crowds gather on the courthouse steps for the auctioning of foreclosed homes. This month alone, he went to court for 25 injunctions to stop foreclosures.

Asked how many he won, he said, “All of them. But the injunction is only the first step.”

The next step varies, but often includes lawsuits against the lenders or servicers who initiated the foreclosure.

Lender representatives said Thompson’s charges about banks’ motivations don’t make sense.

“Do you really think the lender wants that house back?” asked Mo Thrash, a lobbyist for the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia and McCalla Raymer, a law firm with offices in Georgia that represents lenders. “It is absolutely ridiculous to think the lender would want the home back.”

Thrash said the conventional wisdom — that the best outcome for the lender is for the homeowner to make all their payments until the loan is paid in full — is still true, maybe more so now because of falling real estate prices and difficulty in selling homes. “I admit mistakes do happen, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority of these cases are a two-way street,” he said. “It takes two to tango.”

The majority of mortgage banks — 99 percent — are ethical and honest, Thrash added. To suggest otherwise, he said, is “absolutely crazy.”

If the personal foreclosure experiences of Thompson and some of his clients are as they described them, “It was a mistake,” said J.D. Crowe, senior vice president of Southeast Mortgage of Georgia Inc. and a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia Board of Governors.

“If that’s the case, that’s why he won an injunction and will probably win his lawsuit. With the number of foreclosures in the last few years, there’s a lot of paper going back and forth,” Crowe said.

But like Thrash, Crowe said it’s “ridiculous” to suggest that a lender would want to foreclose if there were an alternative. “Lenders want to work with borrowers. They don’t want to foreclose,” he said.

Crowe also suggested that when homeowners win their foreclosure fights, they usually win on a technicality — a mistake in the paperwork or the separation of the deed and note in the selling of the loan by one financial institution to another. In such cases, if homeowners win damages or loan forgiveness, allowing them to walk away from their mortgage payments, said Crowe, “I think it is unconscionable.”

Disbelief, said Thompson, is the biggest challenge he faces in fighting foreclosure fraud. “People who have never suffered through it cannot believe it. It challenges the fundamentals of everything you want to believe about the banks being honest and the government protecting you.”

He cited the case of client LaVonda DeWitt, a patent lawyer whose income was reduced because her firm’s revenue dropped. In an interview, she said she contacted her mortgage company to discuss a loan modification so she could lower her payments.

“They said I wasn’t eligible because I still had a job,” she said.

Then she was laid off. She called her lender again about the modification and was told she wasn’t eligible because didn’t have a job. She said she was also told she wasn’t eligible unless she was three months behind. She stopped making payments in December 2010. She also filed a complaint with the U.S. Treasury Department over being denied a loan modification. The lender responded with a document she had never seen saying she had been offered a modification and rejected it, but later admitted that claim was a mistake, according to DeWitt. She still wasn’t offered a modification. She received a foreclosure notice in March of this year.

She met with Thompson, who went to court with her to block the sale on the first Tuesday in April. She won the injunction but still wasn’t able to negotiate a loan modification. So, on Thompson’s advice, she filed a lawsuit in federal court.

DeWitt said Thompson reminds her of the fictional Atticus Finch, taking on jobs that other lawyers don’t want.

Another client of Thompson’s, Patricia Sibley, won an injunction a year ago, then filed a lawsuit against the lender for wrongful foreclosure. The suit is pending in the Northern District of Georgia. Sibley and her husband are still in their home — “because of Bob Thompson,” she said.

As with DeWitt, Sibley’s suit is based on what Thompson calls “luring into default.” When the recession hit and slashed revenue for her advertising company, Sibley said she had to close her business. She and her husband had paid down by half their $950,000 15-year mortgage on their north Atlanta home near the Chattahoochee River, and their payments were current, she said in an interview.

She contacted the lender to ask about changing the terms to lower the payments. Since they still had some income, they felt they could afford the loan if they could spread it back to 30 years. They were told they weren’t eligible for a modification because they weren’t behind. They skipped one payment and called again, but were told they were not far enough behind to be eligible, according to Sibley and the lawsuit. After the third missed payment, they received a foreclosure notice. They tried to talk to the lender’s customer service department many times and offered to pay the loan current and cover fees in return for restructuring, she said, but heard no response.

The house was advertised for foreclosure. The weekend before the first Tuesday in June 2011, cars were driving by the house and stopping to take pictures, Sibley said. It was an experience she said she wouldn’t wish on anyone.

A friend called and said she had a friend who knew someone who might be able to help — Thompson. The friend said, “I have somebody who’s like Robin Hood. He takes from the banks and gives to the poor.”

“Not that we’re the poor,” Sibley added. But, she said, “I never would have dreamed I’d be in this position.”

Sibley’s case is unresolved, but Thompson was able to get an injunction to prevent foreclosure while it’s pending.

McCurdy & Candler, which has offices in Decatur and Atlanta, handled Sibley’s foreclosure for PNC Mortgage, as well as DeWitt’s foreclosure for Chase. Managing partner Sidney Gelernter said the firm couldn’t comment on any pending case or even discuss foreclosures generally. Sibley’s suit is being defended by Ballard Spahr. One of the lawyers working on the case in Atlanta, Christopher Willis, said the firm couldn’t comment on any matter involving any of its clients.

Sibley’s lawsuit is against National City Mortgage Company, National City Bank, PNC Mortgage, Bank of America and unidentified investors. Sibley said she tried repeatedly to find out the identity of the investors who now own the loan — in order to work out payment terms — but PNC, the servicer, wouldn’t tell her.

A spokeswoman for PNC said the company couldn’t comment on any lawsuit. “We do work with customers,” said Amy Vargo, noting modification programs described on the PNC website.

In his own personal case, Thompson sued BAC Home Loans Servicing, which is a subsidiary of Bank of America, and Bank of New York Mellon, formerly known as Bank of New York, successor in interest to JP Morgan Chase Bank. Bank of America acquired Countrywide Mortgage Company, which was Thompson’s loan servicer. Thompson’s lawsuit names four companies that owned his note successively. Thompson’s case — which he has withdrawn for now — was defended by Monica Gilroy of Alpharetta’s Dickenson Gilroy, who said she couldn’t discuss it.

The foreclosing firm in Thompson’s case was Shuping, Morse & Ross, based in Riverdale. Neither the managing partner, Sheltan Andrew Shuping Jr., nor the lawyer who handled the foreclosure, Kevin Duda, could be reached for comment.

Thompson’s lawsuit — moved from Fulton Superior Court to federal district court in Atlanta — seeks damages for overpayments and unauthorized fees, harassment and injury to his credit and reputation, naming a figure of $5 million.

Thompson said he has stopped making mortgage payments, and BAC has stopped trying to foreclose. He moved to withdraw his complaint, while keeping the door open to refiling it later, and the judge agreed. He said he believes the courts are evolving in their understanding of foreclosure fraud, and he plans to reinitiate the suit at a time that will be advantageous. For now, he said, “It’s an armed truce.”

Thompson’s case in federal court is Thompson v. BAC Home Loans, No. 1:10-CV-3205-TCB.

Sibley’s case in federal court is Sibley v. National City Mortgage Co., No. 1:12-cv-00305-SCJ-JFK.

Daily Report: Robin Hood lawyer fights foreclosures with a passion