Tampa Florida, 7 October 2012 -- Hillsborough County Florida Deputies Van Pelt, Vasquez, and Lott arrested Tampa Pastor Tami Robinson and parishioner Samantha Gavin, both African Americans, at Gavin's Tampa home at 8:45 P.M. Sunday night for Adverse Possession of a home abandoned in foreclosure. Robinson had filed a notice of adverse possession several weeks earlier. Gavin resided in the home. And, Robinson had just hand-served Deputies a Declaratory Judgment lawsuit for earlier related harassment at a different adverse possession home. Deputies charged the women with burglary. A Hillsborough court could convict the defendants and sentence them to lengthy prison terms even though no equitable owner accused the women of trespass.
How Sheriffs Harass Adverse Possessors
The arrests constitute another chapter in the saga of official harassment and suppression of squatters by Statewide Prosecutor, State Attorney, Sheriff, and Police. The harassment has risen to the level of a pogrom against squatters in foreclosure-abandoned homes. The pogrom operates as follows:
The squatters file a Notice and Affidavit of Adverse Possession of abandoned, deteriorating homes in accordance with Florida Statute 95.18 and 600 years of Florida and English common law.
The County Property Appraiser notifies both the equitable owner (mortgagor) and the Sheriff or Police Chief of the adverse possession.
Law enforcers visit the property and interview the squatter who usually admits information the law enforcers consider violations of law
Law enforcers contact the equitable owner and stir up the owner's anxiety against the squatter by implying that the owner will bear responsibility for the damage the squatter does to the property. Often they cannot make such contact. If they do, they suggest the owner should write and sign a trespass warning.
Law enforcers visit the property and harass the squatters, ordering them to move or face arrest, often without any complaint or permission to do so from the owner.
Law enforcers arrest the adverse possessor and/or resident under charges of breaking and entering, burglary, criminal mischief, grand theft, scheme to defraud, and so on.
The adverse possessors typically pay the bail of $500 to $6,000 which exposes them to severe financial hardship and makes it impossible to afford an attorney.
The adverse possessors accept a felony conviction through a plea bargain that leaves them wearing an alarm ankle bracelet or doing jail time.
Some adverse possessors lose their household possessions and their jobs through the process, and their family members and friends shun them.
Sheriff Targets African Americans, Even Pastors
Law enforcers seem most vigorously to focus such efforts against African American squatters. In November and December of 2011, Sarasota Sheriffs twice arrested African American entrepreneur Joel McNair, cousin of NASA astronaut and scientist Ron McNair, for adversely possessing upwards of 60 homes and renting them at low prices to disadvantaged families. Deputies charged him with grand theft and scheme to defraud in fraudulently contrived arrest warrants. McNair learned of a new warrant for his arrest in May 2011 in Manatee County.
McNair committed suicide the next day rather than spend his remaining years in prison. He did not have the money for a court battle because deputies told his tenants he had no right to the houses and they did not have an obligation to honor their contracts to pay him. By the time of his death McNair had adversely possessed over 100 homes abandoned in forclosure in Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. Many believe Sheriffs harassed McNair to death out of economic jealousy. They could not stand seeing an intelligent African American male become a business success by putting low income families in nice homes they never could have afforded otherwise. Beneficiaries of his goodness consider McNair a hero and a martyr.
Sheriffs have arrested numerous African Americans in connection with adverse possession over the past two years, including Chris McDonald of Valrico, George Williams of Plant City, Demetrius Lewis of Pasco, Shalonda Allen of Pasco, Maurice Jennings of Pasco, Roosevelt Mitchell of Marion, Byron Parris of Miami.