An Ohio family says a man took their home from them by going inside while they were out of town, changing the locks and laying claim to the property in court.
The family told WLWT-TV that they found out after returning from a visit to a dying relative that Robert Carr had filed “quiet title” documents after the family abandoned their home of 21 years.
“What he’s looking for is full title and ownership of the home,” said the family’s attorney, Alison Warner.
WLWT reported that Carr had undertaken the same legal process at least a dozen times in Butler and Hamilton counties, including seven cases filed the same day.
Carr told WLWT that anyone can file quiet title claims, and he says he doesn’t work alone.
“I have a team of people who go out and I say make sure the house is empty. If it’s empty, change the locks,” said Carr, who’s pictured above.
He said the process was simple, and that he’s entirely within his rights to take the houses.
“When you abandon a property, bam, walk away from it, ‘I ain’t never coming back. I don’t want nothing to do with it,’ right? Somebody can come in, ‘Oh, mine,’” Carr said.
Carr has been charged with breaking and entering in one of the cases, but he’s fighting the charge – writing “rejected” and “offer not accepted” across the indictment.
He also charged Forest Park, Ohio, police with a lengthy, handwritten list of civil rights violations against him, including kidnapping, “upon the inheritance of (his) free will as a man identified U.S. citizen.”
FBI agents declined to comment on any specific cases, but agents said they’ve investigated similar cases.
“They’ll come together as groups to receive training, how to conduct some of these schemes from a financial standpoint, to understand what they consider the common law and how they can use that common law for their sovereign purposes,” said Kevin Cornelius, special agent in charge. “I’m not familiar (with) any cases where it’s held up in court. I think that it holds up the process of the court’s decision.”
The plaintiff, or the person who lays claim to a property, in a quiet title case seeks a court order preventing the respondent, whether it’s an individual homeowner or a bank that holds the deed, from making any subsequent claim to the property.
Quiet title actions are used to determine who legally holds the title to property, because real estate may sometimes change hands frequently, and the lawsuits can help remove clouds over claims of ownership.
The suits are also used by so-called sovereign citizens, who believe they alone get to decide which laws to obey – particularly tax and property laws — based on what they determine to be the founding fathers’ intent.
The antigovernment movement has grown in recent years and is rooted in the anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-tax Posse Comitatus movement of the 1970s and 1980s.
Most recent recruits to the sovereign citizens movement found themselves in desperate situations, often due to the economy or foreclosure, and are drawn to the idea of easy money or living free of legal consequences.
Many self-identified sovereign citizens are black and are unaware of the racist history of the movement.
Sovereign citizens are becoming well-known by the courts for filing astronomical liens against banks, attorneys and government employees.
While these are usually unsuccessful, they can be expensive to fight and take a long time to resolve.
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