The news ran through Twitter this afternoon. A candidate for the Lakeland City Commission was served a search warrant at his home. Readers of Lakeland Local can figure out whose home was searched. As the Ledger reported,
About 15 agents from the IRS, FBI, U.S. Postal Service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement served a federal search warrant at Goetz’s home at 3038 Cleveland Heights Blvd.
Yes, the home of James Goetz was again in the news. While there is much speculation about the cause for the warrant, the IRS wasn’t speaking to reporters, “There are IRS special agents on site for official purposes” was all that Norm Meadows, an IRS special agent, would say.”
With so little to go on, I expect the Ledger reporters are making calls trying to find someone to go on or off the record. For today, the best anyone could do was speculate. The Ledger keyed on the fact that Goetz had recently paid $16,445 in back property taxes. Goetz had claimed the property was used by his charitable organization which would exempt the corporation from paying property taxes on the home in 2006, 2007, and 2008. However, Goetz had lived in the home, which nullified the property tax exemption. Goetz paid the back property taxes the day he received the bill from the Polk County Property Appraiser’s Office.
The Ledger also mentioned that Goetz had lost his exemption as he had bought and sold the property through a series of transactions between organizations he controlled. With each change Goetz had failed to reapply for tax-exempt status.
I looked for, but didn’t find, a list of those transactions on the Ledger. While researching my story last week, I had made such a list. I think it would be helpful to understanding the current situation as it develops.
All the sales history below is found on the Polk County Property Appraiser’s web site.
01/30/2004 James Goetz purchases the property
03/03/2004 Using a Quit Claim Deed, James Goetz sells the property to Alfred Daise of Loxahatchee, FL
**09/22/2004 Using a Quit Claim Deed James Goetz corrects title to the home to Alfred Daise and James Goetz
**09/22/2004 Using a Quit Claim Deed Alfred Daise “gifts” title to the property to James Goetz
01/14/2005 Using a Quit Claim Deed James Goetz transfers the property to the Goetz Family Trust (D. Scott Heineman and Kurt F. Johnson trustees)
Note that the deed has an error as Goetz signs it is “executed on the 14th day, of the 2nd month, in the year 2005”
Note also the names of the Goetz Family Trust trustees. See below this list for information on the two men.
05/05/2005 The Goetz Family Trust transfers the property to James Arthur Goetz (The Quit Claim Deed isn’t recorded in Polk County until the 05/10/2005)
05/20/2005 James Goetz transfers the property to the Green Family Group of Loxhatchee, Florida (The Quit Claim Deed isn’t recorded in Polk County until 06/13/2005)
04/03/2006 Maryanne Goetz, beneficiary of the Goetz Family Trust grants property rights through Warranty Deed to James Goetz, trustee of the Green Family Group (Not recorded in Polk County until 04/19/2006)
A Warranty Deed notes that the grantor guarantees they have title to the property and will defend it.
04/07/2006 Through Warranty Deed Chanta’e Keowan (Goetz Family Trust), James A. Goetz (Green Family Trust), James A. Goetz (Jersey Shore Group Trust), and James A. Goetz (Goetz Family Trust) grant the property to Cavilyn Dail Keown (Not recorded in Polk County until 04/19/2006)
04/08/2006 Through Quit Claim Deed Cavilyn Keown grants the property to Loxahatchee Group “a Florida 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation. (Not recorded in Polk County until 05/26/2006)
There the title has rested with no changes recorded as of today.
Remember the trustees of the Goetz Family Trust, D. Scott Heineman and Kurt F. Johnson?
This United States Department of Justice release from March 20, 2008 gives much needed background on the two men:
United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello announced that Kurt F. Johnson, 45, of Sunnyvale, California, and Dale Scott Heineman, 48, of Union City, California, were sentenced on March 18, 2008 for orchestrating a nationwide debt elimination scheme. Mr. Johnson was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment and Mr. Heineman was sentenced to 21 years, 8 months imprisonment. The sentences were handed down by United States District Court Judge William Alsup after both defendants were convicted by a jury of multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Heineman operated as the Dorean Group from offices in Union City and Newark, California. Together they orchestrated a mortgage elimination scheme whereby fraudulent documents were recorded as part of their clients’ titles to make it appear as though mortgage lenders’ secured interests in the properties were canceled when, in fact, the corresponding mortgage and home equity loans had not been fully repaid. At the direction of the Dorean Group, some of its clients used these fraudulently-generated “free and clear” titles to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in new home equity loans from lenders who were led to believe that the properties were unencumbered by loans. Clients who obtained new loans paid 50-75% of the funds to the Dorean Group. At least 20 lenders and as many as 3,500 homeowners throughout 35 states were victimized by Mr. Johnson, Mr. Heineman, and the Dorean Group.
On September 22, 2005, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Heineman were indicted by a grand jury. On November 14, 2007, following a four-week trial, a jury returned guilty verdicts on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and thirty-four separate counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341.
A Dorean Group “broker” charged with participating in the conspiracy was also sentenced along with Mr. Heineman and Mr. Johnson. In August 2007, William Julian, 44, of Cayce, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. On March 18, 2008, Mr. Julian was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.
In March 2007, SouthCoast Today published an article on the two men and their “mortgage elimination” scam.
** The original article had the 09/22/2004 entries in this order:
09/22/2004 Using a Quit Claim Deed Alfred Daise sells the property to James Goetz
09/22/2004 Using a Quit Claim Deed James Goetz sells the home to Alfred Daise and James Goetz
Per the work of Polk County Kemp Brinson (James Goetz’s Home: A Lawyer’s-Eye View) I reversed the order. I also change the language to fit the other entries.