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Do Not Skip Court: A Tori Spelling Story

A default judgement is defined as a binding judgement in favor of one party based on the inaction of the other party.  A default judgement can be handed down if you skip court.  Even if you do not think you will win your case, you should at least show up so you have a chance.  In 2017, Tori Spelling failed to respond to City National Bank’s allegations and a default judgement was levied against her.  Now she has to pay $220,000.

The Debt

In 2012, Tori and her husband Dean McDermott took out a $400,000 loan.  The couple quickly fell behind on payments and in 2017, the bank took them to court.  According to court documents, the borrowers still owed about $188,000 for the loan and an additional $17,000 which Tori over drew from her checking account.   Unfortunately, the couple had just been taken to court by American Express for failure to pay over $87,000 in credit card charges.  Needless to say, their spending was out of control.

The Court Date

Instead of responding to Citi National’s court claims against them, Tori and Dean decided to completely ignore the case.  They did not respond to the court via phone or mail.  Ultimately, they decided to skip their court date as well which led to a default judgement for Citi National.  A default judgement handed a win to the bank and the couple was immediately ordered to pay back over $200,000.

She claims that her financial issues stem from a lavish upbringing.  In her memoire, she stated “It’s no mystery why I have money problems. I grew up rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I never knew anything else.”  She went on to say, “Even when I try to embrace a simpler lifestyle, I can’t seem to let go of my expensive tastes. Even when my tastes aren’t fancy, they’re still costly. I moved houses to simplify my life, but lost almost a million dollars along the way.”

There are plenty of reasons people fall behind on credit card or mortgage payments, but there is no reason to let it ruin your life.  You have options.  With the skills and experience of a debt defense attorney like Elias Dsouza, you can reclaim your life and get the fresh start you deserve.  Contact Elias for a free consultation.

5 Celebrities Who Have Had Their Wages Garnished

  • Posted On December 4, 2018
  • Categorized In News
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Wage garnishment can be ordered by a court when a defendant does not show up or is just ignoring previous court mandates such as child support and/or tax payments.  These rules do not just apply to everyday people, celebrities are subject to these mandates as well.  What happens when they ignore the court ruling?

DMX

In 2014, rapper DMX was taken to court by his ex-wife for unpaid child support payments and “other” expenses.  The rapper had, what some would call, a failed album in 2012 (Undisputed), but he was still pulling in $15,000 per month in royalties.  The judge ordered Universal Music Publishing to send those royalty checks to the ex-wife; $10,000 per month for child support and $5,000 per month for those “other” expenses.

Will Smith

Will had an extremely successful run in the late 80’s as a rapper.  He won a Grammy.  He earned a few million dollars.  Unfortunately, he was 18 years old and apparently forgot to pay taxes on his earnings for a few years.  The IRS took action against him and began repossessing assets.  He reportedly owed about $2.8 million in tax payments.  At the brink of bankruptcy, NBC signed him to star in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.  Sources say the IRS garnished 70% of his wages for the first 3 years of the show.

Charlie Sheen

We are all aware of actor Charlie Sheen’s personal problems, but did you know his wages were garnished in 2011?  This is one of the more interesting cases because he was not behind on payments.  Sheen’s ex-wife took him to court to increase the child support payments to $55,000 per month because she stated that his spending habits were likely to leave him unable to make payments in the future.  She won the case and a judge asked Warner Bros. to send money directly to the ex-wife.

Evander Holyfield

In 2012, the Georgia Department of Human Services went to court on behalf of Holyfield’s daughter.  The former boxing champ racked up a bill of over $350,000 in missed payments and hadn’t made a payment at any time in the child’s 18-year life.  The DHS asked the judge to order Holyfield to go to jail and garnish wages until the debt was paid.

Allen Iverson

In 2010, a jeweler sued Iverson for not paying a $375,000 bill.  The judge ordered Iverson to pay it.  Two years later, the former MVP had still not paid the bill and the jeweler took him to court again.  This time, they asked for over $850,000 for the balance, fees, and interest.  The judge ruled in their favor.  Iverson still did not pay the bill.  Fed up with Iverson’s inaction, the judge took control of one of Iverson’s accounts and began garnishing payments.

Money problems are not exclusive to celebrities.  If you are having trouble making payments on your home, car, or any other asset/debt, you may have options.  Contact Elias Dsouza to see what those options are so you can move on with your life and get back on track.

How to Keep Your Car During Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

It is a common misconception that you have to give up everything valuable during chapter 7 bankruptcy.  You can file a car redemption motion.  This option could be a game changer because it saves you money in the long run.  A car is an essential asset when it comes to getting to and from work, hauling the kids around, and performing a multitude of other everyday actions.

What is Vehicle Redemption?

Vehicle redemption is a mechanism built into chapter 7 bankruptcy which allows you to file a motion to buy your car for fair market value.  This means you must pay the lender in the amount of the determined value of the car in one lump sum.  This may be difficult in some cases, but the upside is that you get to keep your vehicle and avoid paying thousands in loan servicing interest payments.  If you do not have the money for the lump sum, companies such as 722 Redemption may be able to give you a redemption loan which would allow you to keep your car.

It should be noted that you may not be able to redeem a work vehicle.  Car redemption is for personal and family vehicles in most cases.

Before You File for Vehicle Redemption

If you plan on filing a vehicle redemption motion during bankruptcy, there are some steps to take before you do so:

  • Determine your vehicle’s value – there are a number of ways to do this.
  • Notify your lender of the motion – you need to let your lender know that you are filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy and that you intend to file a motion for vehicle redemption. You and the lender must agree on the value of the vehicle.  You should have evidence of your vehicle’s value during negotiations.  If you cannot come to an agreement, you may need to use your evidence to prove to the court that your valuation is more accurate.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a very complex process and you should not do it alone.  If not handled properly, you could harm yourself in the long run.  Enlist the services of a skilled and experienced attorney.  Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group has been helping people navigate bankruptcy for over 15 years.

Casey Kasem’s Family in Legal Battle Over Estate and Accusations of Murder

Casey Kasem was a legendary disc jockey and voice actor.  He brought us America’s Top 40 and the voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo.  In June of 2014, he ultimately died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease, but the immediate cause of death was sepsis (a systemic infection of multiple organ systems) and his family is ruthlessly battling for his fortune because he did not have a will.

Jean Kasem’s Arguments

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem died with his wife and kids by his side.  Sounds like a fairy tale death, right?  Wrong.  Immediately after his passing, his wife and kids went to battle.  According to Jean Kasem (who is 20 years younger), Casey’s children were always against her.  She said they were against the marriage from the beginning. Jean Kasem also says:

  • The Kasem children treated her and Casey like a personal ATM machine.
  • She moved Casey to an assisted living center at 2:30am one night to hide from the kids because the kids wanted Casey dead.
  • The kids forced Jean to take Casey to the hospital where he ultimately died.
  • The kids ultimately murdered their father by forcing him to sign a document that gave them healthcare decision making rights and that those rights led to his death.

The Kasem Children’s Argument

The children of Casey Kasem would be the first to tell you there is no love lost between them and their step mom.  They claim:

  • Jean was only ever interested in money.
  • Her actions to control Casey toward the end of his life is proof that she was eager to get the money.
  • Casey once old them, “Don’t ever go up against Jean. You do not know what she is capable of.”
  • Jean’s reluctance to take Casey to the hospital led to his death and that she murdered him by inflicting elderly abuse upon a helpless dying man.

Payouts

Casey Kasem did not have a will, but he did take out an insurance policy for each of his kids.  Each Kasem kid received a $2 million payout from Metlife.  However, they are suing their step mother for wrongful death and that case is ongoing.

It is essential that you have a will made by a skilled licensed attorney.  You do not want there to be any questions surrounding the distribution of your assets.  If you do not have this critical document in place, contact Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group.  He has the skills and experience you need.

Man Seeks to Change Legal Age

  • Posted On November 26, 2018
  • Categorized In News
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In the past few years, we have seen people seek to legally change their gender identity, nationality, and race.  Now, a man from the Netherlands is seeking to change his legal age.  He wants to legally become 20 years younger.  This may sound crazy, but some of his arguments may have you second guessing.

The Plaintiff

Emile Ratelband is a 69-year-old motivational speaker and positive-thinking guru from the Netherlands.  His customers include Toshiba, Philips, Whirlpool, and Apple.  He has written 12 books and achieved international fame.  Now, he wants to change his birth certificate to indicate that he is 49-years old.  You may be asking yourself why anyone would want to do that or what purpose it could possibly serve?

The Argument

Mr. Ratelband claims he is not getting the same opportunities that someone who is 49 would get even though he is, in his own estimation, as healthy as one.  He was quoted as saying, “I feel much younger than my age, I am a young god, I can have all the girls I want but not after I tell them that I am 69,” Ratelband also said, “I feel young, I am in great shape and I want this to be legally recognized because I feel abused, aggrieved and discriminated against because of my age.”

He went on to make a more coherent argument, “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?”  Additionally, he said, “When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car.”

The Court Case

As arguments wrapped up in November, the judge did acknowledge Ratelband’s points.  However, the judge countered stating that, while people are legally able to change their name and their gender, changing someone’s legal age may have the effect of deleting one’s past.

You may be having a more conventional problem such as credit card debt, foreclosure, or estate planning, but these are problems nonetheless.  If you need legal guidance, contact Elias Dsouza for a free consultation.

Image Credit : Top News

Cyber Monday Scams and How to Avoid Them

One of the easiest ways to get your personal data stolen is online shopping.  Cyber Monday is one of the riskiest times of the year for credit card use.  Hackers and thieves gear up all year to prepare to hit retailers and gain the personal data of millions of unsuspecting customers.  What can you do to protect yourself or at least mitigate the damage caused by fraud?

Tip #1 – Search for Items on Websites Instead of Search Engines

Search engines can be misleading.  A good con-artist can create a link and send it up the rankings on a number of search engines like Chrome, Edge, and Bing.  You could click on a link that takes you to a fabricated page, takes you through the entire buying process, and steals your credit card information.  A good sign that a page is not real is the price.  If the price is ridiculously low even for Cyber Monday, take a look at the URL (the “www” address in the search bar) and make sure the address is correct.

Tip #2 – Phishing Email Coupons

If you get an email with a coupon from a store you NEVER visit online or in person, it is a good indication the email is fake.  Do not click any of the links and block the sender.  Most Cyber Monday deals do not require coupons.

Tip #3 – Do Not Purchase Anything Using a QR Code

Using the naked eye, it is impossible to determine a QR code’s validity.  Hackers have even been able to create an overlay containing fake QR codes and place them on top of real ones on official websites.  There are tools to help consumers avoid this problem.  Norton’s Snap QR Reader will scan a code and let you preview a website without actually visiting it (Android users can download it here and iOS users can download it here).

Tip #4 – Keep Track of the Payment Methods You Use at Each Site

If you know which card or other payment method you used to make a purchase, you can more easily narrow down which retailer was affected by a breach.  In addition, understand the protections in place for the payment methods you use.  If you use PayPal, know their fraud policies.  If you are using a credit card, understand how to make a claim and what their process is.

If you run into credit card or debt problems this holiday season, you may need the assistance of an experienced counselor and attorney.  Elias Dsouza has the skills and experience to get you back on track.  Contact Elias for a free consultation.

Identity Theft on the Rise During Black Friday

  • Posted On November 20, 2018
  • Categorized In News
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Stealing a credit card number or even an entire identity is easy enough for criminals, but we make it exponentially easier around the holidays.  The shopping madness of Black Friday causes people to be reckless when shopping at stores.  Many people are not aware of the risks involved during holiday shopping and the people that are aware may not know what to do about it.

How Big of a Problem Is This?

A study in 2011 showed that stores reported 200 million shoppers on Black Friday that year.  They were able to determine that 154 million of them were at risk of personal data theft.  The report also showed:

  • Only 21% of the brick and mortar stores were prepared to tell the customers about a data breach.
  • 79% of customers affected by a data breach will not be notified.

Hackers and other identity thieves do not always target individuals.  They target retailers.  This is a much more efficient means of theft as retailers harbor millions of customer’s personal information including email address, phone number, credit card number, birth date, etc.

How to Know If Your Identity Was Stolen

The three main ways people discover their identity was stolen are:

  • Personal proactive action – checking bank statements, credit reports, and charges consistently is a great way to keep an eye on the safety of your identity. Your credit report is a useful way to make sure no one has opened any accounts in your name.
  • Retailer communication – responsible retailers will have a plan in place in the case of a data breach. You may receive a letter in the mail, a phone call, or an email containing details of the breach and the next steps to take.
  • Debt collection correspondence – if an account is opened under your name and you are unaware, a debt may be sold to a collector as it is unlikely the thief is going to pay the bills they have created. You could start receiving phone calls, letters, or even a court summons.

Paying attention to your finances and credit report is the best way to make sure your efforts to protect yourself were effective.

If your finances are in ruin because a thief stole your personal data, you need the help of an experienced attorney.  Elias Dsouza has been helping people with debt defense, credit restoration, and counseling for over 15 years.  Contact Elias today for a free consultation.

3 Truly Weird Legal Cases

  • Posted On November 16, 2018
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

It is safe to say that human beings get themselves into all sorts of trouble.  From faking their own death to committing crimes with their twins to throw off police, nothing should surprise us anymore. Let’s take a look at three of the strangest recent legal cases.

Pseudocide in Alaska

A man from Alaska was recently convicted for sexually assaulting a woman who was incapacitated.  He went on to receive a 15-year sentence to be served in state prison.  He posted bail and subsequently went home with his girlfriend.  This man did not intend to go to prison.  He and his girlfriend came up with a plan to fake his death (pseudocide).  Currently, in Alaska, it is not illegal to fake your own death.  One day this man, a commercial fisherman by trade, got on a boat and did not return to harbor on that boat.  His girlfriend reported him missing.  The plan was for him to take a different boat to harbor and hide in a house close to his girlfriend’s.  His girlfriend could not stomach the tears of the man’s grieving parents so she told them he was still alive.  The police were notified and the man is now in prison.

The Sex Offenders of Grovetown, Georgia

Every year, before Halloween, you see article after article about how to keep your kids safe.  Well, the Mayor of Grovetown, Georgia took the issue to heart.  In Georgia, sex offenders are required to meet their parole officers whenever and wherever they are told to do so.  The Mayor teamed up with the local parole officer to hatch a plan.  The plan was to require all 25-30 of the town’s sex offenders to meet at City Hall from 6pm to 9pm on Halloween to “shield” kids from them.  It should be noted that, in 2009, a study concluded that there is no increase in the rate of sexual assaults on Halloween.

 The Identical Twin Jewelry Heist

The DNA of identical twins is…identical.  In 2009, a German jewelry store was robbed by three men.  Two of the men were identical twins.  They descended from the ceiling as if they were in Mission Impossible and made off with $6.8 million worth of jewelry.  It was very well-done, but one of the brothers left behind a drop of sweat on a latex glove.  Using DNA testing, the German police were able to identify the two brothers, but they were unable to say which one it was and they were unable to prove both brothers were at the crime scene.  In the end, the brothers went free.

If you find yourself in a bind, you need help.  Elias Dsouza has the knowledge and experience to help you through financial, immigration, business, and many other legal issues.  Contact Elias today for a free consultation.

The “El Chapo” Trial is Under Way

  • Posted On November 14, 2018
  • Categorized In News
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One of the most notorious drug-lords in history is finally facing trial in New York today.  He is facing 17 charges that could lead to a life sentence.  His defense attorney claims the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is the fall guy for the real king pin who is still operating in Mexico.  He continues to claim that people in the Mexican government, all the way up to the current president, have accepted bribes to pin the blame on Guzman. Let’s take a look at what (allegedly) landed “El Chapo” in court today.

Background

Joaquin Guzman lived in Sinaloa, Mexico from birth.  His father said he was a cattle rancher, but many people believe he was actually a poppy farmer.  Joaquin dropped out of school in 3rd grade to work with his father.  His father was abusive and, as a teen, Joaquin stood up to him.  Eventually, Guzman was kicked out of his family home so he went to live with his grandfather.  After a time, he went to live with his uncle, Pedro Perez who was a pioneer in the Mexican drug trade.

It did not take long for “El Chapo” to make a name for himself.  In the 70’s and 80’s, Guzman spent time working his way through the ranks until, in the 90’s, he was able to seize power when the leader of the cartel was arrested.  From the 90’s to around 2013, Guzman (allegedly) ran the Sinaloa Cartel with an iron fist.

The Charges

“El Chapo” is facing 17 criminal charges including:

  • Distribution of massive amounts of narcotics. It is estimated that over 230,000 pounds of cocaine have crossed the border into the U.S.
  • Unlawful distribution and use of firearms. In 2014, he claimed he was responsible for the murder of 2,000 – 3,000 people.
  • International money smuggling. The amount totaling in the area of $14 billion.

Interestingly, as part of the extradition agreement, the Mexican government made the United States agree to take the death penalty off the table.  Mexico does not agree with capital punishment.  Recently, Mexico denied Guzman’s request for extradition as the drug lord has escaped prison several times in the past (most recently in 2013).

Today in Court

Opening statements were made today in a New York court.  Guzman pleaded “not guilty” to all charges.  His lawyer claimed that he was being used as a scapegoat by the Mexican government.  He went on to say that the Mexican government was bribed by the current cartel leader to blame Guzman for the crimes.  The identities of all jurors are being concealed during the duration of the case due to safety concerns.  The trial was delayed because of juror anxiety.  Additionally, an enormous security operation was in place to mitigate any chance of an incident.  This trial is expected to take at least four months.

You do not have to be a drug lord to require the services of an experienced attorney.  If you are having trouble making ends meet, your business needs tax advice, or your family needs legal advice, contact Elias Dsouza of Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group today.

Megyn Kelly vs. NBC

  • Posted On November 12, 2018
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

Megyn Kelly has faced controversy in the past.  She left Fox News because she did not like the “snake pit” of prime-time cable and Donald Trump often criticized her publicly.  She never considered herself a political person and still managed to find herself amidst battles with political players.  She moved to NBC to talk about issues with a more holistic approach.  Her viewership numbers were not great especially when her contract is considered.  The final blow for Megyn was her comment on air regarding the correctness of people including a “blackface” in their Halloween costume.

Megyn Kelly’s Comments Regarding “Blackface”

In late October, on her show, Megyn Kelly made this comment:

“But what is racist?” Kelly asked on her show. “Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

She faced immediate backlash on social media and people called for her termination.  NBC immediately took her off the air to let the dust settle.  They were not quick to terminate her and many people believe it is because her contract is worth about $20 million per year.

Andrew Lack

The Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, Andrew Lack had this to say, “There is no other way to put this: I condemn those remarks; there is no place on our air or in this workplace for them.”  Many believe Lack had to act more decisively with Kelly than he did with Matt Lauer.  Lack was accused of being soft on Lauer before firing him.  Andrew Lack was also criticized because he turned away Ronan Farrow, the reporter who was working on the Harvey Weinstein story.  Farrow eventually went to the New Yorker with the story.

Kelly’s Contract

Megyn Kelly still has over a year on her contract and she is not going away without the money.  According to the Daily Mail, Kelly’s contract is a “non-break deal” so she may be able to walk away with the full $69 million.  Other sources report that she is in talks with Fox News negotiating a potential comeback.

Sometimes jobs do not pan out like they were supposed to.  When this happens, you may have trouble making ends meet.  If you are in this position with bills piling up and you are having trouble getting back on your feet, you may have options.  Elias Dsouza is an experienced credit counselor and debt negotiator.  Contact Elias today to get a free consultation.