Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Homeowners Lose Homes To Crime, Bureaucracy? Why Must THEY Fix The Mess?

Creepy criminals "stole" Jennifer Merin's house
through deed fraud, and she's having terrible
trouble getting it back.  
Two items in the news recently made me ask an obvious question:

When somebody does something incredibly stupid or criminal and forces the sale of a house that was not meant to be sold, why is it the real, legit homeowner who has to clean up the mess?  

Here's the first case:

A grifter faked a deed and moved into a house in Queens that isn't his, and settled in, says the New York Post. 

The real owner of the house found out about this pretty quickly, but now it's become a struggle to evict this jerk from the house.

You'd think that as soon as everyone figured out that the grifter, Darrell Beatty, 49, and his sons, Darrell Kash Beatty, 25 and DeShaun Beatty, 22 faked the deed, it would be a simple matter of kicking them out and letting the real owner, Jennifer Morin back in.

But this crime happened in February and Morin is still struggling to get the creeps out, says the Post.

The illegal trio have stolen and/or trashed family heirlooms, such as photos, a circa-1920 bed frame, vintage suitcases and classic television sets.

Merin first figured out this was going on when the February water bill arrived, but not until May, and there was a huge spike in water usage on the bill.

She called the cops when she went to the house to find these jerks living there.  But police said nobody answered the door when they showed up, so they told her to take the matter to court.

The fake deed said Beatty bought the place from somebody named Edith Moore, but Merin's family never heard of such a person.

The Post tried to call Beatty for an explanation, but obviously he wasn't going to talk to any snooping reporters.  A reporter tried to talk to one of the sons at the house, but he refused and sicced a pit bull on the questioner.

Says the Post: "A Finance source said the case is being jointly investigated by the Queens District Attorney's office and the city sheriff, and that it 'could be part of a larger ring' of deed scammers.'

Beatty has not been charged."

Um, why has it taken so long to investigate, since the paper trail is right there and obvious, and why hasn't Beatty been charged?

You'd think it would be quick and easy to get Merin back into her house, but you'd think wrong apparently.

Since the case is still under investigation, Merin has little choice but to conduct eviction proceedings.

A judge approved the eviction earlier this year, but Beatty now claims "health problems" so the eviction was delayed.

Oh, come ON! Who cares if he has health problems? (I doubt he really does.) He committed a crime, he needs to go. His dopey sons can take care of Beatty's so-called 'health problems."

The city of New York has beefed up scrutiny of deed transfers and trained staff to flag discrepencies to detect fraud.

At least 100 deeds involving 300 properties are now being investigated as possible frauds. Which means there might be 100 Jennifer Merins out there in New York also getting screwed by criminals who are basically stealing houses.

By the way, judging from the photo in the New York Post, Merin isn't exactly the youngest lady in the world. Even more reason to be outraged. Let's torture an old woman through bureaucracy! What fun!


The second case of epic housing screw ups was in Norcross, Georgia.  
Xui Lui and her four year old daughter almost
lost their condo because she didn't pay a tax
bill the city never sent her.  

There, a woman named Xui Lui almost lost the condo where she lives with her four year old daughter. Seems she never paid a $95 tax bill a few years ago, so the city auctioned off the house.

And why didn't she pay this bill? She never knew the bill existed, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

The city kept sending the bill to a nonexistent address, and the bill kept coming back to City Hall. Had she been aware of the bill, she would have paid it.

All of Lui's other, more expensive tax bills went to the correct address and she paid them all on time, and in full, so it's not like she was blowing this off.

She didn't know they were auctioning off her condo because she never received notice that it was happening. Next thing Liu knew, the house wasn't hers anymore and she was being evicted.

Luckily, reporters got wind of this, and the city of Norcross, under pain of really bad publicity, had to fix this. But of course they had to take the condo away from the people who thought they bought a condo, which must have been awkward and infuriating to them.

They are making Liu pay a $300 late fee on the tax bill. I guess the greedy city decided that due to their "largesse" of owning up to their horrible mess-up, they have to make Liu pay some how.

You'd think they'd waive the fee given the fear and worry they inflicted on Liu, but uh-uh. Gotta get that revenue no matter what.

I have a suggestion for the city of Norcross. If you're going to auction off somebody's house, maybe you can tell them in advance? In person? And maybe get tax bill addresses right?


Modal Trigger
Jennifer Merin looks at some of her possessions that were dumped in her garage of her family home.Photo: Helayne Seidman
A Finance source said that the case is being jointly investigated by the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the city sheriff and that it “could be part of a larger ring” of deed scammers.
Beatty has not been charged.
he extraordinary theft has jolted city bureaucrats.
“That case is what changed the dynamic in the Department of Finance of how we process deed transfers,” city Sheriff Joseph Fucito, whose office executes evictions and probes deed fraud, told The Post.
For years, filing a fake deed transfer was easy. The legal documents can be found online, filled out with only basic details, then stamped by a notary public.
“The old policy was designed to be customer friendly. It’s very hard to be customer friendly and super vigilant at the same time,” Fucito said.
Since the Merin case, staffers have been retrained to flag discrepancies, such as unusually low sale prices or suspect businesses, and personal information is checked against previously filed city records.
City property owners can also sign up for a new Finance Department service that alerts them if a change is made to their deed.
Since June, the new policies have red-flagged more than 500 deed transfers. While many were found to contain legitimate filing errors, at least 100 deeds impacting 300 properties are now being investigated as possible frauds, Fucito said.
Often they involve crooked attorneys and title companies, he said.
“We want to stem the tide of fraudulent filings,” the sheriff said.
With the criminal probe ongoing, Merin has little recourse but to try to evict the Beattys in court.
After Darrell Beatty failed to appear in August, a judge approved an eviction, but it was stayed last week when Beatty claimed he had health problems.
He is due back in Queens Housing Court on Tuesday.
In court documents, Darrell Beatty says he rented the house from a “Khalid Moore,” with an option to buy, and that he paid $10,000 in rent to Moore.
On Friday, The Post confronted DeShaun Beatty outside the house. He refused to answer questions, walked in and shut the door, ordering his pit bull to guard the entrance.
Through the windows, the living and dining rooms appeared mostly bare, with a few sections of modern sofas and a nearly empty bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon sitting on a shelf.
A four-tiered Baccarat crystal chandelier that Merin said had been hanging in the living room was gone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Scary Shooting At Canada's Parliament Building

A street being cordoned off in Ottawa this morning.  
In a story now unfolding, shots were fired in and around Canada's Parliament building in Ottawa.   

I don't picture Canada as a hot spot for this kind of crime or even possibly a terror attack, but these things can happen anywhere, unfortunately.

People in Ottawa near Parliament Hill have been told to stay off the streets and away from windows.

This is just two days after a soldier in Quebec was killed and another injured in a hit and run incident that the government says was a terror attack perpetrated by a jerk who had embraced radical Islam.   

Here's a scary video, taken by a Globe and Mail reporter, of an exchange of gunfire in the Parliament building:

Another GREAT Use For Raid Bee And Wasp Killer

Works great on
convenience store
robbers, too!  
I don't usually don't do too many product endorsements in this blog, but I'll make an exception: Raid wasp and hornet killer works great.    

I've had good success with it with the wasp next that keep appearing in my toolshed. But a woman in Pennsylvania found another great use for the product, though the makers of Raid probably don't recommend this.

According to television station WJAC in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a woman walked into the CSI Coalfield Mini Market  in Berlin, Pennsylvania and demanded that store clerk Annabelle Miller hand over all the cash in the register.

Miller wasn't particularly in the mood to hand over the money, but what was she going to do? She wasn't sure if the robber was armed, and Miller herself didn't have a gun or anything like this.

But she wanted to get rid of the robber anyway. Miller had a can of Raid wasp and hornet killer on the counter, and apparently she figured since it worked on annoying wasps, she could try it on annoying robbers.

I'm happy to report Raid wasp and hornet killer works great on ridding stores of annoying robbers. Miller sprayed the robber in the face, who fled, without cash.

In the brief video you see at the bottom of this post, you can see how casually Miller sprayed the Raid. "Oh, a slighly annoying wasp. Maybe I should get rid of it."

Raid wasp and hornet killer is kind of toxic, (Duh! It kills wasps) so the warning label on the can urges you to try not to get the stuff on you. So the robber is probably pretty sick.

The Material Safety Data Sheet said the product can cause drying or defatting of skin, irritation to the skin, nose, throat and respiratory tract, and aspiration into the lungs can cause severe health effects.

According to WJAC: "Miller described the woman as having a deep voice, long brown hair and thick eyebrows. She said she wouldn't be surprised if the woman also has some burns on her face."

Police also suggest that store clerks not fight back the way Miller did, because said clerks can get shot and all by nasty robbers. But in this case it worked.

Wasp season is over where I live in Vermont, so I thought I don't need Raid wasp and hornet killer for awhile. But I think I'll pick up a can of it at the store today, in case somebody breaks into the house.

Here's the spray video from the store:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

They're Rioting Over Pumpkins?

These people are rioting because they got drunk
at a Keene N.H. pumpkin festival.  
The headline said it best:

"It's the Great Pumpkin Riot of 2014, Charlie Brown!"

Yep, you might have heard about that big riot this past weekend in Keene, N.H. at the annual pumpkin festival in town.   Something like 30 people were hurt, and 84 arrested, says the Boston Globe.

People threw full beer bottles, liquor bottles, rocks and pumpkins at police and each other.

Police responded with tear gas, riot gear and arrests.  All this at a friggin' pumpkin festival!

Most of the rioter were white college age students. You know how that demographic just LOVES social media, so they posted their derring-do on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, police are combing over these social media sites like pre-teen girls searching for every bit of info and gossip on pop music sensation One Direction. Of course, police are looking for rioters to arrest, not teeny bopper singing groups.

It's safe to say last year's Pumpkin Fest went better that the one last weekend.  For one thing, the 2013 version featured no riots. And in 2013, they set a world record by having 30,851 carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns at one place at one time.

This year, they might have been trying to set the world record for most beer bottles thrown at police.

These people in Ferguson, Missouri are rioting
because an unarmed black teenager was
shot to death by a cop.  
Or the most people stuffed into one backyard. By one estimate there were 4,000 people or so in the yard, and thats the place where the trouble seems to have started.  

Talking Points Memo, citing lots of Tweets out there, also brought up some biting differences in perspective surrounding the white rioters of Keene and the black rioters of Ferguson, Missouri back in August.

One person Tweeted unrest in Ferguson was brought on by the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, while the disturbances in Keene came about because of the availability of pumpkins (not to mention booze.)

Another meme going around shows photos of black demonstrators in Ferguson as "thugs," "animals" and "destroying their community" while the white rioters in Keene are merely "rowdy," "mischievous" and "booze filled revelers."

Wesley Lowery Tweeted: "Don't these people have jobs? Where are the white fathers? What will end this corrosive culture of violence?!"

He has a point: I don't like people rioting for any reason. It just doesn't advance the cause. Any cause. It just turns people off.  And the morons that looted and burned businesses in Ferguson are just plain scum.

But there does seem to be a racial divide between reasons behind the riots

Blacks seem to riot when unarmed African-American teenagers are shot, when too many people say the "N" word too many times, when blatant discrimination gets to be too much.

Whites tend to riot when their favorite sports team loses, or win their sports team wins, or they want to let off steam after a surfing competition, or the want to (pumpkin) spice up a Jack 'O Lantern festival.
At least some very nice Keene State College students
volunteered to clean up the mess the day
after riots at the town's pumpkin festival.  

Another embarrassing thing is maybe, at least in this one incident, all us anti-militarization types might have been mistaken when we said local police don't need to be armed to the teeth like a huge army.

They still don't, in my opinion, but the Great Keene Pumpkin Riot of '14 put a chink in that argument.

I guess Keene Police are having the last laugh. A month or so ago, Stephen Colbert mocked Keene for getting all kinds of riot gear, maybe in case trouble broke out at the pumpkin festival.

Back in September, Colbert mocked: "Keene, N.H. obtained a surplus $286,000 BearCat armored vehicle, which they said they needed...since Keene currently hosts several large public functions to include an annual pumpkin festival."

One bright note:  The Boston Globe reported that Keene State College students returned to the scene Sunday to clean up the mess, which is nice.

I'm just glad nobody rioted because they were upset that their mess had been cleaned up.

Huge Flames, Dense Smoke, Explosions. No Worries, I'll Go In There And Get The Guy

The entire city of Fresno, California is looking
for the man in the blue Dodgers cap who
dashed into a flaming house and
carried a 73 year old man to safety.  

The guy who rescued the man from this fire has been found. His name is Thomas Artiago, and the man he rescued have been reunited, says KFSN in Fresno.

KFSN reports Artiago "remains humble about the experience, saying he wasn't acting bravely or even courageously. He just acted.

'It was just an instinct, you know,' he said. 'Instinct, you see someone and help out people.'""


Authorities are on the lookout for a guy who took something precious from a California home.

They're not going to arrest him, or charge him with any crimes. They just want to find the right person to thank.

The "thing" this guy took from the house was a 73 year old man who was on oxygen.

The house was flaming, big time, and filled with dense smoke. Explosions rattled around inside. The fire department wasn't there yet. 

You'll see it in the video at the bottom of this post, but nobody dared go into that conflagration to get the poor guy out. It was super hot. The explosions weren't helping. But some guy in a Dodgers cap raced in and got the man.

A dramatic video shot by a woman named Beth Lederach, who was driving by, saw the smoke, called 911 and then started filming.

"The rescuer appeared to have 'come out of nowhere,' Lederach said. 'He just calmly walked right in there and came walking right back out with this guy,'" says the Fresno Bee. 
Police believed the rescuer stopped by a hospital after the incident to be treated for smoke inhalation. Then he disappeared.

The 73 year old guy, Robert Wells is going to be OK, too. He suffered from smoke inhalation, which isn't exactly too surprising. But he's on the mend.

"I wasn't going fast enough, so a guy picked me up and carried me out there. He was kind of in a half run," Wells told television station KFSN. 

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart, that I made it out," Wells told KFSN, hoping the rescuer was watching.

Here's the dramatic video:

Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Move A Couch From A Third Floor Apartment

A novel way to move a couch.  
What a pain in the neck!

It's moving day and you have to get the huge sofa out of a third floor apartment. The stairs are creaky and narrow and probably unsafe.

What to you do?

Here's the solution in the video, below:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Video: Arctic Fox Brutally Attacks Man!!

Watch what a fox like this one does to his victim.  
The headline from the blog Nothing To Do With Arbroath says it all: Watch the "vicious Arctic fox attempt to eat man alive!!  

Spoiler: You will certainly NOT be grossed out or horrified if you watch this video: