Up in the hills of Orange, residents were walking for exercise, others rode along horse trails, but on Orange Park Boulevard, one family was left locked out of their home. The Koshaks received a morning visit from the Orange County Sheriff Department (OCSD) whose deputies arrived on scene yesterday to carry out a disputed eviction.
The home was in foreclosure, but the family had mounted a civil challenge in court. The day's events were completely unexpected.
“We didn't receive a five-day notice and nothing came in the mail,” says Norman Koshak of the OCSD's standard practice. “It was a complete, utter surprise.” That made the ordeal all more difficult for Koshak's wife, Helen, who suffers from end stage breast cancer.
“We were told we needed to pack some things because we need to get out of our home. I have medications and supplements that I take and medical records I need,” Helen Koshak recounts. “My head was soaking wet. The anxiety of it all made me dizzy and I sat down. My legs got tingly.”
Her husband called her doctor who advised Helen to sit down and elevate her feet. The deputies asked if she wanted an ambulance called instead. As a cancer patient Helen Koshak refused due to concerns about the vulnerability of her immune system.
“I used the wheelchair as a walker to leave,” Koshak said as she got up woozy. “They had no courtesy of the fact that I wasn't well.”
The Koshaks had been living at the residency since 1996. They are parents to two children and own a small business in Anaheim. “I've always provided a roof over their heads,” Norman says of his children. “This feels very disturbing to me that this is happening.” The family spent last night sleeping in a motel room.
Lenore Albert, the Huntington Beach-based attorney for the family, rushed to the scene of the eviction as soon as she could. “The deputies wouldn't let me get the documents inside the house for the ongoing civil litigation,” Albert says. “The attorney from the other side came in and took some of the documents I couldn't get to and carried them off.”
There was an eviction notice posted to the front gate. The family attorney says that it was put up that day at 2 p.m. On the form “Wednesday” was whited out for the eviction that took place on Tuesday and the “25th” of June was penned in over another whited out section. “OCSD proceeded on the eviction under a court order, a Writ of Possession of Real Property,” the Sheriff's Department tells the Weekly. “The Writ was issued on May 22, 2013 and judgment was entered on March 25, 2013.”
“I asked to see that very documentation yesterday on-site from the deputies carrying out the eviction and they didn't have it,” Albert says.
The OCSD also denies that they failed to give the Koshaks the necessary heads up to vacate. “The 5-day notice was posted on the property on June 10, 2013,” they say.
“That only begs more questions that what it answers,” Albert responds.
As for the chain of the events that set everything in motion? “We got some loans,” Norman Koshak said. “They seemed, on the face of things, not to be so bad, but they were really terrible loans.” The couple had suffered some major medical health issues that partly moved them to seek out help. Norman recovered from a brain tumor as his wife's condition vacillated through chemotherapy treatments.
In early August of 2004, court documents show, the Koshaks had entered a loan agreement to the tune of $585,000 at $5,950 per month over five years with an interest rate of 12.6%. It also included a balloon payment of $585,000 due at the end of the fifth year. The lenders, a consortium of OC and LA county residents, recorded a default soon after. They offered a refinanced loan just months later as a cure. The terms of the April 2005 agreement that followed is the source of the dispute.
“It was through the civil case that we discovered there was forged notes,” Albert claims. “We went to the Orange County Sheriff's Department and they opened up an investigation,” she adds.
“We hired a forensic document examiner who used to work for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. He looked at them and said the signatures were exact and no person can ever sign their name exact twice, much less two people.”
According to the attorney, the OCSD reassured the family, promising that no lockout would take place with the investigation still in process.
“The property is in foreclosure, but they had no right to evict us. Somehow they did,” Norman Koshak laments. Though they are locked out, the family plans to continue its fight. “Someday, we'll be vindicated.”
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz