Police were called to the house again on Dec. 29, when another tenant complained that Ramos, his wife and her son broke into her room and threatened her with their dog, according to the police report. Ramos says the victim made up the claims and that they in fact had called police because they believed the tenant was using drugs.
Police arrested Ramos for aggravated assault for a deadly weapon, and charged Jonathan Alvarez with burglary to an occupied dwelling, assault and criminal mischief. The charges were dropped in both cases.
Proving ownership and the right to inhabit a property can be a tricky matter, Leen explained.
“The police aren’t fact finders. They’re not supposed to look at leases and figure out which is the better one,” he said.
Indeed, after Tuesday’s commision meeting, Leen and an attorney working with the city found a warranty deed recorded with the clerk of court showing Echauri sold the house to Prescott Rosche LLP in January 2012. But Echauri said Tuesday the deed was a fraud and his signature on the document was forged.
“I could record a deed for the Brooklyn Bridge. They’ll take anything,” said attorney Jordan Bublick, who handled Echauri’s filing of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2008.
In fact, Alvarez’s mother, Ana, said Tuesday the family signed a lease. She and Ramos said Jonathan Alvarez originally found the house through a real estate agent and moved in with his wife and two young children. When the couple split, Ramos said he and Ana moved in to the rambling house about a year ago to help out her son. He said they paid rent of $1,500 a month for the first six or seven months, but when they learned the house was in foreclosure, they stopped.
Ana Alvarez said she tracked down the bank, Chase, and was told as long as they maintained the property, they were allowed to stay. Chase paid the 2012 tax bill of $20,460.15 on the house, records show.
But the couple could not provide a name when asked to whom they paid rent and could not provide a lease.
“They say we’re squatters, which isn’t true,” Ramos said. “Until the bank comes and tells us to leave, we’re not going anywhere.”
But unless they can produce a lease, Leen says the family’s days living in luxury may be numbered.
“If they can’t show us one, we will take any legal means we can to see that this ends,” he said.
Jenny Staletovich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org