Could have been handled differently
83-year-old Hattie Siegel of Tequesta Florida is facing the loss of her home after a hearing in bankruptcy court yesterday. Her property will be sold to settle 1.8 million dollars in code violations.
Ms. Siegel got herself into this mess no question about it. The City of Tequesta sold the debt to a Lake Worth LLC. Everything was legal and by the law. But still this is a sad story. How does it feel Tequesta to evict an old lady? I'd have a bad taste in my mouth about the whole affair. You won a battle but was does the reward make you feel better about yourself?
Open Post- Is it just me?, Third World County, Right Wing Nation, Adam's Blog, Bright & Early,
TEQUESTA -- Even after all that had happened, 83-year-old Hattie Siegel still couldn't believe she stood to lose almost everything, merely because of plants she allowed to grow wild in her yard.
Siegel's jaw dropped, and, for a few moments, she appeared to cry when the bankruptcy judge issued his order.
The trustee in her case already had sold a home Siegel owned in Charleston, S.C. And on Monday, Judge Steven Friedman ruled that a half-acre lot Siegel owned in Jupiter also would be sold.
"It's terribly unfortunate you have to be here," Friedman said.
Once, Siegel was worth nearly $1 million, her attorney said. Soon, it seems, she will be penniless -- all because of a decades long battle between her and the Village of Tequesta over her unkempt yard.
For years, Siegel maintained that it was her constitutional right to keep her yard the way she wanted.
Not so, said village officials.
For five years, the village fined Siegel $1,000 a day for code violations until she owed them nearly $1.8 million.
In November 2004, the village persuaded a circuit court judge to issue a foreclosure judgment against Siegel.
Months later, the village sold the judgment for $300,000 to Silver Fidelity Trust, a Lake Worth limited liability company.
John Metzger, Siegel's attorney, agreed to work on her case for free after being contacted by Gov. Jeb Bush's office. The governor has taken an interest in some local homeowners' rights cases. Metzger persuaded Siegel to declare bankruptcy to save her home.
Stuart Young, an attorney representing Silver Fidelity, said it was difficult to say how much the company would collect beyond the $300,000 it paid for the debt.
The sale of Siegel's Charleston home plus some money from Siegel's bank accounts totaled $208,000. The lot in Jupiter is selling for $430,000. After taxes, real estate fees and other costs, the sale should net about $390,000.