It’s not a crime to strip your own foreclosed home, Supreme Court rules
By Gus Burns
27 June 2016
DETROIT -- A 50-year-old Westland man who removed counter tops, doors,
the furnace, a hot water tank and other fixtures from his father's
foreclosed home before turning it over to the new owner won't face
criminal charges, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office charged Timothy P. March
with larceny in a building and receiving or concealing stolen goods
after his aging father lost the house in a 2013 foreclosure auction.
March's father moved to an assisted-living residence and gave his son
power of attorney over the house. The mortgage went into default and
was sold to John Hamood, owner of Vonelle Ventures, at a Wayne County
Sheriff's auction for $33,425.80.
"Hamood inspected the home on February 10, 2013, the day after the
redemption period expired," the state Supreme Court summary of the case
says. "Inside, he noticed various items missing, including kitchen
cabinets, the kitchen countertop, a furnace, duct work, interior doors,
a hot water tank, and an exterior air conditioner.
"He contacted the police the same day, informing them of his findings,
and they initiated an investigation that resulted in a search of
defendant's home approximately two weeks later."
Police located many of the items Hamood said were taken from the home
he'd purchases. March was subsequently arrested and charged.
Wayne Circuit Judge Vera Massey Jones dismissed the case in August 2013
and Worthy's office appealed. The Appeals Court overruled the trial
court, reinstating the charged, but March appealed that decision again
and won in the state's highest court.
While Hamood won the right to purchase the home at auction, there
remained a six-month redemption period during which Park could have
paid the auction price to Hamood and reclaimed the house. Also during
that time he had legal possession of the house and its contents, the
Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the decision written by Justice
Stephen J. Markman.
The court says, however, that Hamood does have ground to take civil action and file a lawsuit in the case.
(The full Supreme Court ruling People v March is on the news website.)
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