Stealing from the elderly in Sussex County

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By fed up on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 01:57 pm:

I'm a friend of a WWII Veteran, owner of a marina/farm in Dagsboro Delaware. This man was a mechanic on the PT boats in the Med. in the 40's. Someone abandoned a PT boat here at the marina in the early 70's and we have created a group to restore this wartime vessel. The PT308 sank at least 3 German ships and maybe more that were never reported. The sister ship to the 308, the 309 is completely restored and I understand, in the Nimitz Museum in Texas.

My friend is now 80 years of age and has been through a legal battle since 1985 when a boat owner had hired this man and his son to fix his boat. There was an accident and the gas line was sparked, the boat owner, the marina owner and his son were all severely injured and were all flown to the nearest burn center. Since, the boat owner who worked for the labor board has taken the marina owner and his business to court and convinced the judge that he was 'employed' by the marina owner, and the judge ruled that he receive $430,000 settlement.

The marina owner decided that if he find someone to buy a parcel of his land that he could pay off the settlement and then go through county planning and zoning to divide the rest of his farm into a small community, he would be able to live comfortably and stay in his home on his marina property till he passes away. Well, a businessman that the marina owner asked for advice, came to the house one day with his busines partner and a proposal to buy the property. Without representation, the men got the marina owner to sign the contract. Neither party had representation with them, and after they read the contract later that day, half of the items in the contract were completely opposite of what them men had told the marina owner was in the paperwork. They told him orally what he wanted to hear, and swindled his signature.

The marina owner knew that it wouldn't be a good contract until his business partner, his daughter-in-law signed the contract along with him. The lawyer from the first case got together with these two shady businessmen and found paperwork within the system that stated the daughter-in-law's signature is not needed, and they are proceeding with attempting to have the marina owner removed from his property.

The marina owner was told that if he filed for bankruptcy, the contract would definitely be null and void. So, now for almost one year, the marina owner has been driving to his hearings and meetings, almost two hours away, sometimes 2 or 3 days in a row. He has a court appointed bankruptcy attorney who doesn't seem to be going out of his way to help the marina owner as much as he could, and as of last Tuesday, the marina owner was given 30 days notice to evacuate the premesis. This boat yard has about 50 boats that are winterized and in dry dock for the season. There are also about 50 boats in the water, some are more than 50 feet long, including my 50 foot yacht.

The brakruptcy court people presented the marina owner and his daughter-in-law with a 'stop work order' and stated that the power to the marina is to be shut off, and that no one is allowed to go out on the docks to get to their boats. Within a day of the power being cut, there will be 10 boats underwater, and this mess will turn into a bigger mess. I have contacted the state's attorney general and am taking steps to see if there is a way to give the marina owner a little more time than the 26 days remainig on his limit. The marina owner is not allowed to run his machinery to haul boats around to help get them out of the water, the boat owners are not allowed to get to their boats, and in the end, this realtor and his lawyer business partner are ending up with 48 acres of prime waterfront real estate.

Sussex County is the largest county east of the Mississippi and it is a hot spot right now for developers. What use to be a $40,000 property 15 years ago is now going at about $350.000. The businessmen so interested in this property own the property next to the marina in question, about 350 acres WHICH has a Bald Eagles nest in a tree on the waterfront, and the Planning and Zoning Commission have denied any docks within 1,000 feet of the nest in any direction. The 1,000 foot mark in the marina owner's direction is in the middle of his kitchen table on the edge of the property.

If we cannot find the proper channels to aid the marina owner in this case, I am committing my life to changing the laws so they do not protect the crooked businessmen as much as they do here in this state at this time. The marina owner asked me about a year ago if I would help him out. I made phone calls attempting to complete lists given to the marina owner by the court. It seems to me that everyone in this county in one way or another is a business matter which lawyer, realty appraiser, realtor, developer, and it seems that they have no mercy when it comes to getting what they least not when it's a deal that involves this much land, and this much money.

By fed up on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 06:50 am:

I have told you about the elder man, marina property owner who was in a court battle, Mr. Timmons and who was being swindled by the businessmen who were attempting to steal 47 acres for next to nothing. The elder man went to bankruptcy court for protection from a questionable contract the elder man was tricked into signing (with no one there to represent him). The property was sold via closed bid auction over a phone conversation with the judge in Pittsburgh, and the lawyer representing the elder man, in Dover.

So the property was sold "as is, where is", and anyone with belongings being stored on the property were suppose to be notified and needed to file a claim of ownership with the courts so the new owners would have some way to recognize items that did not belong to the elderly owner, Mr. Timmons. The sale of the property took place, and settlement has come and gone. Mr. Timmons has not had his first payment, and he's expected to move any and all belongings he wants to salvage. The crew was told by the new owners to destroy everything in sight and start taking truck loads to the dump. Mr. Timmons, who has not been treated fairly through this entire situation, is now watching his belongings being stolen, and hauled away to the dump or to wherever the destruction crew choose to haul certain items, boats, cars, items with titles and registration people's names who have no idea there's even a problem at the marina/storage yard.

Mr. Timmons has very little help, that's not even the issue here. One of the main issues is that during the cleanup, the work crew had 1,000's of gallons of fuel that was in different tanks all over the property. The crew of guys cut the tanks open with their bull dozer and let the fuel dump out onto the ground by the shore of Pepper Creek before they loaded all the tanks to dispose of before they were caught doing that kind of damage to the soil and water. I'm getting on the phone DNREC and others this morning.

The State Police have notified Mr. Timmons Thursday night that a complaint was made by the new owners of the property stating that Mr. Timmons is being unreasonable and he put a marker on many things in the boat yard that he is hoping the crew will not steal from him. The crew stated that Mr. Timmons is standing in the way of the crew doing their job. Mr. Timmons does not want his belongings stolen from him so that he has nothing when all is said and done. The new owners told him that he'd have a year to find a new place for all his equipment, and he could run the marina until next fall and that way everyone would have a chance to find new homes for their belongings. Their 'word' was not good. Mr. Timmons is an 80 year old man being pushed to the edge, and it's not right what has happened in this case and it's not right what might happen this morning. At 8am when they show up at the marina, if it seems to the police that Mr. Timmons is holding up their progress, and the work crew feel 'threatened' by Mr. Timmons, he stands a chance of going to jail. Once again a standoff between Mr. Timmons and the 'system'.

The reason folks need to hear about this is to protect themselves from being robbed like Mr. Timmons has been. Someone could work their whole life for what they have and how a bunch of developers and a bankruptcy court judge over a telephone conference, didn't even have to look the old man in the eye as she ruined this man's life and started the process of this downward spiral the Mr. Timmons is going through...

The time I talked about this issue on the radio, everyone seemed to have a different view of business ethics or morals, "given the opportunity/take the opportunity'" The way I see it is this man has been given the shaft using the system as the weapon. People know that he's not up to par with the ways of the world in a legal perspective, so that's the way they are going about stealing from him.

Look out for your elder family members and know if they need help with their affairs before you find out the hard way that they're being swindled by these businessmen, and stand a chance of losing everything they've worked for their entire lives.

By FAF on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 07:55 am:

to fed up, I have seen so many unscrupulous things go on in land management in the last 5-10 years down here I can't help but think that County Council and other people in elected positions might be somehow benefitting from "all the development" going on. Yes, there is a surplu$$ but where are the roads, sewers and infrastructure. Why does that come after the fact?
I am afraid that unless your friend has a good lawyer with a good act. Mr Fuqua or someone like him, your friend's marina and land may be the next "new" development. And unfortunately your friend will NOT get the $, the developers and their cronies get all that. We just get the benefit? of a surplus of tax dollars.
Just remember the saying about Toll Brothers (Quakers). One day they pray for you, six days they prey on you. Good Luck!!

By They DESERVE what happens when they are bad! on Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 04:14 pm:

Fed UP,

It is a good thing you are doing to get this word out about the folks who prey on the old and the weak... Please keep up the good work.

Also please try to remember that many of those who work, risk money and time and work hard - to make it possible for so many good people to live and work here - many of those people are good people too.

There are a few bad lawyers and many more who are not perfect, the same with a few bad developers and a few bad builders... and many more that are far less than perfect.

One thing it is important to remember however is that we have lots and lots of nice people who want to live here and move here and it is these people who drive the engines of developement. There are no developers where there are no people to buy the homes and lots.

BUT, we need the bad apples crushed into apple sauce! Go to it!

By Jody Hudson on Tuesday, March 16, 2004 - 04:18 pm:

I agree that we must care for and protect our elderly.

I love the people who have moved here and those who have been here for generations, like our families have been here.

We do need to have a fair review of unfair practices!

We hope that if you folks would like to have honest and fair dealings that you will deal with us and we will care for you and your families... honestly.
Jody Hudson

By fed up on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 07:14 am:

I'll go even further and say it's not only the businesspeople, but maybe friends and family members that the elderly need protection from. It's easy to swindle anyone who is not fully up to date with the ins and outs of their estate. And old farmer, having no idea the value of his land, given the shaft by friends, family AND the court system...

I just think this elderly man is backed into a corner and there is nothing he can do but pick up a weapon and fend for himself.

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