Yet Another Madeline Walker Coincidence
According to Providence Probate Court Judge John Martinelli, cases similar to the case of Madeline Walker, the 81 year old Providence woman evicted from her home for failing to pay a sewer bill, are more common than they should be…
At a Providence Probate Court hearing yesterday, Judge John Martinelli looked out into the packed courtroom of lawyers, reporters, and community activist groups and noted that while the crowd was unusual, such a case was not.The report comes from Amanda Milkovits in the Projo, who also provides a quick summary of the inintial tax-lien sale of Ms. Walker’s home…
“I’m happy everyone’s on board now, but I must tell you, there are numerous cases like this,” Martinelli said. “I’m disappointed this case has gone this far without any activity by this court.”
The lien was sold for [$836.39] in November 2003 to Cobble Hill Development LLP, whose managing member is John E. Shekarchi.At the start of last year, several Rhode Island legislators proposed adding at least one additional step to this procedure. In mid-February (Senate)/early March (House), a bill was introduced that would have, among other things, made notification of the Departement of Elderly Affairs a binding requirement in certain tax-lien sales involving senior citizens. However, sometime between the bill’s introduction and its passage through committee, (late June in the Senate, early July in the House), the binding notification requirement was removed.
Private companies or individuals can buy the tax liens on properties. They pay the lien and seek to recoup their expenses, plus interest, from the homeowner. If the homeowner doesn’t repay the buyer within a year and a day, the buyer can charge legal fees as well and file a court petition for ownership of the property.
Something else happened in that time period, perhaps just a coincidence. On March 31, 2005 — during the interval of time when the strong protections in the tax-lien bill morphed into weaker ones — the aforementioned John E. Shekarchi gave a $200 campaign contribution to Rhode Island Senate President Joseph Montalbano. In other words, an active tax-lien speculator gave a campaign contribution to the Rhode Island Senate President at the same time the Rhode Island Senate was considering imposing tougher rules on tax-lien speculators. Do you think that Senate President Montalbano will be touting Mr. Shekarchi’s support in his upcoming election?
Other recipients of Mr. Shekarchi’s campaign cash include Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, the State Democratic Leadership Committee, and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian.