Hey, there! Log in / Register

Jury awards Dorchester man $2.7 million in fraud suit against brokers who said they'd help him stay in his house, then sold it to somebody who evicted him

A Suffolk Superior Court jury has concluded that two Stoughton real-estate brokers took advantage of an uneducated contractor with mortgage problems to screw him out of his home on Greenbrier Street in Dorchester and turn a tidy profit on the property.

In a verdict reached two weeks ago, the jury awarded Christopher St. Louis, formerly of 27 Greenbrier St., $1.5 million in damages and $1.2 million in interest in the case - which St. Louis first brought in 2017, two years after St. Louis first signed over the house to brokers Mitra Ghobadi and Richard Fitzgerald of Stoughton in a "short sale." The jury rejected St. Louis's charge of conspiracy against a third broker from Jamaica Plain.

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly first reported on the case.

St. Louis, who left school in sixth grade, charged that Ghobadi told him that in exchange for selling her the three-family house, for $122,000, far less than it was assessed, she would take care of his back mortgage payments and he could stay in the house for free, doing home repairs for them until he got back on his feet, at which point she would re-sell him the house. The three-family house had been in his ex-wife's family for 35 years, and she still lived in one of the units, while St. Louis lived with a roommate in another and his ex's brother lived in the third. St. Louis said that as part of the deal - made orally, with nothing on paper - Ghobadi agreed the ex-wife, daughter and brother could stay in their units for rent of $1,000 a month.

Instead, St. Louis said, just three months after he sold the house to Fitzgerald's firm, at a steep discount - not Ghobadi's separate firm - Fitzgerald sold the house to a Dorchester real-estate firm - then managed by Fitzgerald's daughter-in-law - for $310,374.22. The deed filed with that sale was actually notarized just ten days after St. Louis signed over the house. That firm then sold the house to a couple for $650,000 in 2017 - after, St. Louis's suit charged, Ghobadi worked as a listing agent for the property.

Through the process, St. Louis charged, somebody repeatedly forged his signature on documents he never saw as part of the paperwork for the deals. Also, because he sold the house for far less than its assessed value, St. Louis suddenly owed the IRS up to $120,000 in taxes. The IRS sum was initially recorded against the house, but somebody, St Louis said, forged his name on a request to the IRS to make him responsible for paying it.

Not long after taking over the house, the Dorchester firm - which St. Louis had originally sued as well, but which a judge dropped from the case before trial - ordered him and his family members out of the house and carelessly moved his stuff to a Newmarket Square self-storage place, breaking many items, including some of his nearly three decades worth of contractor tools.

In a pre-trial filing, his lawyer summed up his case for damages, including $680,000 for the loss of the house and $280,000 for work he says he lost - including the value of repairs he made on the Greenbrier Street property before he was kicked out:

Plaintiff was the victim of a foreclosure rescue scam in which Defendant Mitra Ghobadi and a team of her agents including the co-Defendants successfully conspire to buy the Plaintiff's family home for hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value and resell it for a five hundred percent profit. The Defendant Mitra Ghobadi had an agreement with the Plaintiff that she would purchase his home and re-sell it to him once he completed various repairs. Further, the agreement required that the Plaintiff be allowed to remain in the home. The Defendant did not have any intentions in re-selling the home to the Plaintiff, as she immediately sold the home to Five Realty LLC, which was owned by her husband, Defendant Richard Fitzgerald. Further, the Defendant Mitra Ghobadi forced the Plaintiff to leave the home, discarded all of his personal items including the tools he utilizes to make a living, and never compensated him for the improvements he made.

The Defendants have profited financially while the plaintiff and his family have lost their home and the tools required for the Plaintiff to make a living and continue on with his life.

In their own pre-trial statement, however, Ghobadi and Fitzgerald said the case was completely frivolous:

The plaintiff had not made mortgage payments on the property in ten years. It was just a matter of time before the bank foreclosed on the property. The plaintiff took steps on two prior occasions to transfer the home by way of a short sale. He withdrew and changed his mind on both prior occasions. The third time (March 2015) he completed the transfer of ownership and was provided with $10,000 as moving expenses. During the plaintiff's ownership the property was in disrepair. There were times when there were no utilities, heat or water service at the home. The bank holding the mortgage appraised the home for nearly $150,000.00 prior to the short sale. Based on that appraisal, the bank consented to the short sale price in March 2015. The plaintiff refused entry to people hired to make repairs to the property and the insurance was going to be cancelled for a failure to repair safety items designated during their inspection. The Defendant opted to sell the home in June of 2015 ...

The plaintiff claims a lost of $680,000 for the value of the home while the bank appraiser assessed the property at a far less value of nearly $150,000.

The plaintiff claims he suffered a loss of income of $280,000 but in the prior ten years he never paid the mortgage and has not produced any tax records to support his alleged loss of income or how it is connected to the defendants.

The plaintiff claims storage costs and loss of personal items. None of the defendants owned the property at the time the plaintiff is contending that he suffered a loss of personal items and had to incur storage fees.

The jury disagreed, setting the damages before interest at $1 million for Ghobadi and $500,000 for her husband.

Complete complaint (2.4M PDF)
Argument against $280,000 lost wages claim (2.5M PDF).
Pre-trial case statements by both sides (447k PDF).
Jury verdict on individual charges (125k PDF).
Calculations on damages and interest (57k PDF).

Neighborhoods: 


Ad:


Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

those people belong in jail for elder abuse

up
Voting closed 4

Criminal charges next.

up
Voting closed 3

And yet, she still has her real estate license. The state is incompetent when it comes to overseeing licensees.

up
Voting closed 4

The verdict was delivered January 19, 2024. You want the state to disbar real estate agents prior to being found guilty?
And does she still have her license? Or are you just complaining for the sake of it…

up
Voting closed 5

It was just a matter of time before the bank foreclosed on the property.

How can I be a thief? If I hadn’t stolen his house then somebody else would have!

up
Voting closed 3

except for the Trumpian spelling of "stolen".

up
Voting closed 3

on the appeal? Can one entire family not know enough to get it in writing, or to talk to a lawyer? This case is clearly about greed and overreaching, but not for $1 Million.

up
Voting closed 2

They won't love you back. These jerks forged signatures, nothing about their operation was above board. It's one thing to make a stupid but fair decision, and another to get swindled by thieves.

up
Voting closed 3

If this guy only had a 6th grade education, there's a good chance the rest of the family members were also uneducated. For that matter, we don't know how much he discussed this with them once he was told he couldn't take the documents home to go over with them.

Big take-away lesson: never trust anyone who says "Trust me".

up
Voting closed 3

Always have a good real estate lawyer to do the P&S when Selling or Buying. I've seen too many nightmares.

up
Voting closed 3

Where do I find this bank??

up
Voting closed 3

Hmmmm….sounds like snake agents, but if someone didn’t pay their mortgage for 10 years I’m wondering why the bank hadn’t already foreclosed.

up
Voting closed 3

The smoking gun in this case seems to be whether the homeowner's signature was forged or not, especially on the Power of Attorney document. The plaintiff didn't present a handwriting expert as a witness, so it probably wasn't forged.

up
Voting closed 3

That firm then sold the house to a couple for $650,000 in 2017

This was an unrelated third party couple? Who presumably didn't know there was a situation with the house? Were they involved in the suit?

up
Voting closed 5