This time the evidence is more clearer than ever; could defective court documents lead to a conspirator's ring against a local ethnic media outlet?
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Story Updated 9-26-19: To add photo captions, fix grammatical, add URL links.
By Julia Dudley Najieb
American journalist Chauncey Bailey Jr. served as editor-in-chief of The Oakland Post in Oakland, CA from June 2007 until his murder. He had a 37-year career in journalism before he was shot dead in Downtown Oakland due to a crime syndicate he was investigating for a story—his murderers, Usuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey, were convicted of the crime in June 2011, according to Los Angeles Times June 10, 2011 article. Bailey had been the first American journalist killed for domestic reporting since 1976.
His article was never published:
Bailey was shot and killed while working on a story about the finances of Your Black Muslim Bakery, involving its pending bankruptcy, according to April 12, 2011 Oakland Tribune article.
A March 31, 2016 Fresno Bee article reported on the suspicious suicide of 51-year-old reporter, John Lang, who was a well-known, very vocal activist who was found with three stab wounds on his charred body—alternative media outlets such as Newspunch.com felt Lang predicted his own death a few days prior. His house was burnt to the ground, with him in it, reported as a self-inflicted fire by authorities.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember these stories unless they hit too close to home:
In mid-October of 2018, my stolen driver’s license was found in a very obscure Fresno, CA neighborhood, considered to be a below the low-income-standard neighborhood where people are severely struggling to make ends meet—it is not so hard to believe that people were coming after me for my life and livelihood, as a journalist, especially with the most recent events exposed in the courtroom last month and this month:
After over two-years of deliberate fraud, our landlord, Mel Wapner of Tylar Property Management and his assistant, David Evans, have been caught red handed with the deepest of fraud operations so extensive, that the telling of this story has been so hard to believe for our family members and closest friends who have heard us tell them the story, probably feeling an inkling of doubt.
From Tylar Property Management’s extortion tactics to doctoring court paperwork against us, it would finally be the Fresno County Superior Court,The Honorable Judge Noelle E. Pebet, whose background includes being the Fresno County senior deputy district attorney at Fresno County District Attorney's Office for over 12 ½ years; her judicial status would begin to reveal the level of corruption so dismal, beyond what we surmised: the vindication of knowing that someone else with the power to do something about the unlawful conduct found out about the circle of corruption that had been plaguing our ONME News media outlet and personal lives for several years--finally.
As exhausted news publishers, we almost had no confidence left in our court system, due process or our local Fresno County Sheriff’s Department who would continue to serve us with several scheduled, illegal lockouts over a two-and-a-half year-period.
We were almost most certain that the circle of corruption we had been experiencing over the last several years went as far as the judge—We were wrong on that aspect of the Fresno County court system.
So why would a property management company go to the full extent to submit defective paperwork against us to place an illegal default judgement on our credit without telling us, and then continue to extort us for more than what our rent cost per month, attempting to make us homeless?
The easy answer in my assessment is because others were paying them to do so; it is hard to believe that someone would risk prison time to do such a venture, unless they were being paid lots of money. It also means that corrupt court officials and supervisors, perhaps in the clerk’s office, had to have been paid to defraud the judges, and corrupt officials in the Fresno County Sheriff's department allowed the defective 2017 doctored court paperwork to pass through their departments.
The public will finally get to know the facts of the matter: we are confirming as we speak two identified, very well-known corporate colluding partners in this scheme, which will be most shocking when revealed to the public. There are also some key powerful individuals or former people in power whom we are also fact checking, and cannot name until the next article.
These individuals plotting to bring down our ethnic media outlet, ONME News, plotting to ruin our credibility and lives, as well as blocking local media contracts deemed specifically for our targeted, Central Valley niche audience will be identified to the public very shortly.
Moreover, the question remains, who would go to such lengths with the risk of prison time?
Knowing the huge homelessness epidemic in Fresno County, who would go through such vengeance to try to make a family homeless who had been paying rent for the last 3 ½ years?
People with unlimited sources of money who feel empowered because of their resources, feeling they are above the law, above the courts, and above government officials—that’s who.
This story is just unfolding; some of us watch these type of movies on TV for entertainment—it is a very different experience when one is the character in real life:
We never thought that our news outlet, ONME News, would be such a target, where we would be so feared for what we write about, that power players are willing to do anything to stop us from exposing horrible truths through news in the city of Fresno, especially with the initial disaster regarding the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant from the state of California, involving Southwest Fresno, CA and the city of Fresno. Had we not done the in-depth reporting on that situation, alerting Sacramento, the disenfranchised Southwest Fresno community would have been left in the dark again, and left out of the process.
Unfortunately, we were also subject to libelous comments from fearful candidates running for local City of Fresno Council seat, district 3, attacking us first, hoping to shut us down as a news source for our community, which we have served news from an African-American perspective for over 12 years.
First, I had to understand the level of demise these individuals were up to by reviewing the housing epidemic in California—if this is being done to us, it is most definitely a stigma happening throughout California to other tenants who are being targeted.
The fast climbing rate of evictions in California
Although we were obligated to necessary family monetary obligations, it was more practical and less burdensome on my 2007 car for us to attain another affordable, reliable car—that’s when we found out about the eviction default judgement on our credit, at a car lot in 2017. We were still paying rent at our location every month without that prior knowledge.
How did this happen?
Just the way it may have happened to some tenants who are a part of the average 160,000 California households facing court eviction per year, according to May 2018 Report: CALIFORNIA EVICTIONS ARE FAST AND FREQUENT By Aimee Inglis and Dean Preston.
The report was compiled as a part of an anti-eviction mapping project for the state of California and stated that tenants live in fear of eviction in retaliation for repair requests or organizing with their neighbors against rent hikes and displacement—in our case, it was discriminatory retaliation based on politics and our ethnic media outlet.
The article continued by stating the California State Legislature has started to prioritize policy responses to the housing crisis, insistent that there be a statewide understanding of the eviction epidemic’s role in the housing crisis. Here is what the authors of this report found:
Landlords file an average of 166,337 eviction lawsuits annually in California, with a total of 499,010 households facing eviction in the three-year period.
An estimated 1.5 million Californians faced court evictions over the last three years.
The data also verified the authors’ experience that evictions in California happen quickly: The Judicial Council reported that 60% of eviction cases are resolved within 30 days of filing. For the counties that had data available, the median percentage for default judgments against tenants was 40% of cases filed, indicating that many tenants lose evictions because they do not file a response as required within 5 calendar days, “Clerk Default Judgment.”
The report also determined that the Judicial Council’s 2017 Court Statistics Report revealed that eviction court cases move through the system at breakneck speed, where nearly 75% of eviction cases are resolved within 45 days of filing, and nearly 60% are resolved within a month, contradicting the consistent landlord narrative that it takes many months to evict tenants who violate the terms of their lease.
Also identified in the report was how the traumatic process for tenants is not only destabilizing communities, but is plunging tenants further into a cycle of poverty.
The report concluded with the statistics that 90% of tenants facing eviction do not have representation from an attorney to wade through the technical language on the Unlawful Detainers, confusing to tenants who do not have representation, yet who face incredibly high stakes.
Given the lack of eviction defense resources, many tenants do not bother asserting defenses to eviction, even where the eviction is clearly illegal.
Bill AB 2925 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, would have required rental owners statewide to list a “cause” or a reason when deciding to terminate a tenancy; this bill was defeated by a number of oppositions. Requiring a stated cause for eviction would have helped to protect tenants like us from arbitrary, discriminatory or retaliatory evictions.
The loophole of the 3-Day Notice
The 3-day-notice-to-quit California style eviction is when a landlord is supposed to do the following:
· Deliver the notice personally to tenant
· Give notice to a reasonable subtenant
· Mail the notice to tenant
· Serve the notice at their workplace
Then that 3-day period does not start counting until the tenant has been confirmed to have received the notice. If there is an amount of rent owed, it must be put on the notice in regards to the amount and the date it must be paid; also, this must occur after the grace period for rent has passed. It could also be made clear that should the tenant not follow one of the instructions given, or rental payment based on an external agreement, then an eviction suit will be filed.
But how can one respond to a landlord’s request to pay more rent or fees if he or she never received a three-day notice of more fees requested?
There is no statewide data on the number of notices to terminate tenancy served on tenants because California law does not require those notices to be filed with any government agency; this loosely bound rule allows unethical landlords to skate by, skipping such an important step for tenants who do not believe they owed any more rent than what is customarily due every month.
Where there is grave concern regarding the court process
The Fresno Superior Court currently has 43 judges, six commissioners, and approximately 430 employees. Fresno County Sheriff's Department has approximately 1,200 employees at its agency; both of these entities work together in regards to the eviction process in Fresno County; however both of these agencies are at fault for the defective process in our traumatic court case. Nevertheless, here is how it is supposed to work:
According to http://www.fresno.courts.ca.gov, The Superior Court of California, County of Fresno website, here is a summary of how an eviction process is supposed to go:
1. An Unlawful Detainer lawsuit must be filed by the landlord who wants to obtain possession of the rented property and receive payment of any back rent, which means legally evicting the tenant from the property.
2. The tenant must be served with the Unlawful Detainer complaint, giving him/her five days (5) to respond to the landlord by paying a fee or qualifying for a fee waiver to file an answer in the clerk's office at the specified court location on the original complaint.
3. Then both parties are notified by mail of the time and place of trial.
4. If the case goes to trial and the landlord wins the Unlawful Detainer lawsuit, the court will issue a judgment for possession. To enforce the judgment, the landlord will then obtain a Writ of Possession that directs the Sheriff to enforce the judgment for possession of the property. This legal document authorizes the Sheriff to physically remove and lock the tenant out of the property; this initial service fee is $125.00 per address for the lockout procedure.
5. To cancel any eviction after the sheriff has received the writ of possession, the attorney of record or plaintiff, if pro per, must submit a signed and dated instruction form requesting the lockout process to be terminated. No one other than the attorney of record or plaintiff if pro per may cancel a lockout.
But how can one file a response within five days if he or she was not served the original Unlawful Detainer complaint from the landlord?
These were some of the questions I began to ask myself, after transitioning from a homeowner for over 15 years to a tenant in a rented condo—I and my husband were new to the process, and we were on a steep learning curve, trying to figure out what our landlord, Tylar Property Management, was doing to us deliberately and illegally.
In the courtroom Sept. 3, 2019. Judge Pebet identified the discrepancy,
She noted that Tylar Property Management adjusted the 3-day notice on the first amended complaint after the case had already been filed, making the judgement defective. So the filings made by Tylar Property Management in March of 2017 made no sense in the court paperwork, being that a 3-day notice was never served to us as the tenants; instead, the paperwork was changed within the court documents themselves—in my opinion, making this situation an inside job on the highest of levels.
As I was summoned as a material witness in another state in March and April of 2017, I was not served the Unlawful Detainer complaint by the landlord, and neither was my husband. Had we been served, we would have had five days to respond—like, showing the courts receipts of how long we had been continuing to pay rent. We never knew of the 2017 April court date regarding this Unlawful Detainer or May 22, 2017 default eviction judgement—and yet we were still paying rent each month, with no clue.
But once we went to that car lot to find out the surprise, we then went to our landlord to ask what this eviction judgement was all about—we were shocked to know there was a judgement on both of our credits. We sought legal guidance through Central California Legal Services, Inc.—-they, too, told us there was nothing we could do because there was already a court date which we did not appear, and a judgement confirmed, according to their court records. They, too, were baffled at the process and noticed the amended complaint in 2017, but could not explain or figure out how it happened.
We only had the right to go to court to extend our stay at the location before the final lockout procedure—not knowing any better about the unlawfulness of the matter, we made arrangements to pay the exorbitant fees beyond our rent to our extortionist landlord under duress because we were still trying to understand how the process evolved to this point and why.
So now the questions were burgeoning into something more of a sinister plot:
How did Tylar Property Management pass court paperwork through the Fresno County Superior Court without serving us properly at our work or residence so that we could file an answer to show proof of receipts and continual rent payments?
How did they manage to submit court paperwork based on a “2017 date,” and still use that throughout the years of 2018 and 2019, as we continued to come up with the rent or their excessive extra fees to pay them cash, as requested? That’s why we continued to do our research and due diligence to understand the underhanded antics happening.
Why would the Fresno County Sheriff's Department allow 2017 dated court eviction paperwork pass through their offices, allowing payment for the lockout procedure more than several times in one year for the same faulty-dated 2017 court paperwork? Unless, there was some help from the inside of the Fresno County Sheriff's Department as well, passing everything through …
However, it would be Evans who gave us a clue when he would say outside the courtroom, “It’s political.” He even went as far to give us the initials of the name involved (this will become public knowledge shortly once confirmed.)
Thereafter Wapner and Evans used this faulty eviction process to harass and extort us every month with the threat of a lockout within seven days, encourage sexual favors for payment, and processed several illegal lockouts per year for extra court fees or late fees with interest without notifying us.
Through continued investigative journalism, more will be revealed, as we continue to find the fitting puzzle pieces to this story.
Legal problems that could arise for Tylar Property Management and accomplices
Although I am not an attorney, according to research on California penal codes, the legal ramifications for being identified with any violation of the codes below include the following: (NOTE: The information researched below comes from Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028.)
California Penal Code Section 470 PC: Forgery
A forgery offense can be committed in the following ways:
By signing someone else’s name without the other person’s authority (California Penal Code Section 470(a) PC)
By counterfeiting or forging another person’s handwriting or seal on a document (California Penal Code Section 470(b) PC)
By altering, corrupting or falsifying legal documents (wills, property conveyances, court records or any other legal writing that can be used as evidence in a court of law) (California Penal Code Section 470(c) PC)
By falsifying, altering, counterfeiting, publishing or uttering any of the following documents (California Penal Code Section 470(d) PC)
Leases on real property
And other items listed in the statute
To prove that the defendant committed forgery, a prosecutor must be able to establish that:
The defendant committed one of the forgery acts listed above AND
He or she acted with the specific intent to defraud someone else or an institution
Forgery can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In making a filing decision, a prosecutor will consider factors such as the criminal history of the defendant, the magnitude of the fraud offense involved and the amount of loss suffered, if any. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, restitution to the victim and substantial court fines. If charged as a felony, the defendant can potentially be sentenced to up to three years in prison, in addition to fines and restitution.
California Penal Code Section 132 PC & California Penal Code Section 134 PC: Offering Or Preparing False Evidence
Presenting False Written Evidence is a crime under California Penal Code Section 132 PC and the broader offense of Preparing False Evidence is a crime pursuant to California Penal Code Section 134 PC.
Presenting False Written Evidence requires a prosecutor to prove the following elements:
That a person presented false or fraudulent written evidence
In a legal proceeding
AND the person knew the evidence was false when he or she presented it.
The term "legal proceeding" is not limited to situations where evidence is presented to a judge or jury in a trial; and can include any official hearing that is conducted under California state law for criminal, civil or administrative matters. This can include administrative and traffic court hearings.
Preparing False Evidence is a wider-reaching offense that requires the following elements:
The defendant prepared a false or forged "matter or thing," which can be a book, paper, record, or written instrument
He or she did so with the intent to produce this false evidence at a legal proceeding
AND he or she did so with the intent to deceive.
Offering or Preparing False Evidence is a felony-level offense that can carry sentences of up to three years in prison, in addition to substantial court fine.
California Penal Code Section 115 PC: Filing A False Document
Filing a False Document under California Penal Code Section 115 PC makes it a felony to file any forged or false document with a public office.
The statute requires a prosecutor to prove the following elements:
A defendant provided a document for filing, recording or registration with any public office in California
The defendant knew that the document was false or a forgery when he or she filed it AND
The document was one that, if genuine, could be legally filed.
Filing a False or Forged Document is a felony that is punishable by up to three years in prison and substantial court fines. For defendants accused of filing multiple forged documents, each document filed may be punished separately.
Fraud on the Court, or Fraud upon the Court, is where a material misrepresentation has been made to the court, or by the court itself. The main requirement is that the impartiality of the court has been so disrupted that it can’t perform its tasks without bias or prejudice.
Some examples of fraud on the court include:
Fraud in the service of court summons (such as withholding a court summons from a party)
Corruption or influence of a court member or official
Intentionally failing to inform the parties of necessary appointments or requirements, in efforts to obstruct the judicial process
“Unconscionable” schemes to deceive or make misrepresentations through the court system
Fraud on the court is one of the most serious violations that can occur in a court of law. If fraud on the court occurs, the effect is that the entire case is voided or cancelled. Any ruling or judgment that the court has issued will be void.
For the official who acted in fraud upon the court, they may very well be required to step down from their position and may even be subjected to criminal consequences like a fine or a jail sentence. It could also result in other serious consequences, such as an attorney being disbarred, or a judge being removed from service.
If a court official is found to be biased or prejudiced even before fraud occurs, they are required to excuse themselves from the case, and a different official must be appointed. In some jurisdictions, a trial tainted by fraud on the court will be vacated or set aside for a certain time period (such as two years), to be “reopened” at a later date.
Under Penal Code 518 PC, the California crime of extortion (also known as "blackmail") occurs when a person does any of the following:
1. uses force or threats to compel another person to give you money or other property,
2. uses force or threats to compel a public officer to perform an official act, or
3. if it is a public official, acts under color of official right to compel another person to give up money or other property.1
Extortion in most cases is a California felony. The penalties are two (2), three (3) or four (4) years in county jail, and/or a ten thousand dollar ($10,000) fine.
Victims who pay the money or property extorted can also bring a lawsuit to recover damages for "civil extortion" in California.
18 U.S. Code § 1509.Obstruction of court orders
Whoever, by threats or force, willfully prevents, obstructs, impedes, or interferes with, or willfully attempts to prevent, obstruct, impede, or interfere with, the due exercise of rights or the performance of duties under any order, judgment, or decree of a court of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
No injunctive or other civil relief against the conduct made criminal by this section shall be denied on the ground that such conduct is a crime.
CIVIL CODE – CIV DIVISION 3. OBLIGATIONS [1427 - 3273] Anti-Harassment Protection
Under the State of California Anti-Harassment Protection, landlord harassment in the form of stealing, extorting, threatening force, or blocking access can result in a fine of $2,000 per offense. The State code also protects against landlord retaliation after a tenant has asserted his or her rights under the law. Each retaliatory act is punishable by a fine of $100 to $2,000.
Landlord harassment is when a landlord purposely creates undesirable living conditions that are designed to push the tenant out of the home. Examples of landlord harassment may include the following:
Failing to repair and maintain the residence
Refusing to accept or acknowledge payment of rent
Withholding amenities that were previously available
Destroying the tenant’s property
Creating nuisances such as loud noises or leaving trash around the tenant’s residence
Threatening the tenant with physical violence
Entering the property without providing notice to the tenant
Threatening to report the tenant to a credit bureau or refusing to provide recommendations to future landlords
Providing notices of improper conduct that are made up or grossly exaggerated
A conclusion to just the beginning
As a mother I am mortified for all of our young adults including my own; as a wife, I am disgusted by the mental anguish I and my husband went through; as a Black media outlet, I am horrified that people(s) would try to impeded on our First Amendment right to freedom of speech and press as well as our right to economic freedom and prosperity and as a California resident, I am dismayed to know that the process has failed us and possibly other minority renters, and is instead adding to the poverty consciousness of the haves and have-nots—that’s California, ironically known as a liberal state.
The final outcome of what happens in this case will be at the mercy of the court, under Fresno County Superior Court The Honorable Judge Noelle E. Pebet come this Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 at 8:30 AM at the Fresno Superior Court on O Street. We shall see, we shall see.
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