Five months after being evicted from their home in rural Orange, members of the Koshak family continue to sit outside the property's locked gates daily, keeping a watchful eye on the activity going on inside. Thanks largely to the efforts of 26-year-old Nathan Koshak and his iPhone camera, a massive archive of video images exists on Ustream, which show several tons of family furniture being loaded onto trucks and hauled to an undisclosed location.
It's the kind of story that fits nicely into the Occupy narrative: greedy investors entrap a family with a predatory loan, foreclose on their home, and take everything in the process–even the kitchen sink.
Were it that simple.
Among the claims being bandied about online by one Occupier, who incessantly hashtags the names of local journalists and newspapers on her Facebook page, is that a federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order in favor of the Koshaks–a claim that implies that the folks who foreclosed on the property back in 2011, are now trespassing.
But Irvine Attorney Phil Green, who represents the home's current owners, recently provided the Weekly with a federal ruling issued on November 12 by Judge Cormac J. Carney denying the Koshaks' request for a temporary restraining order. In an email to the Weekly, Green questions the validity of Koshak claims.
“You have to ask yourself, if the Koshaks have such a great case, how come they keep losing, over and over again,” Green asked.
Weekly contributor Gabriel San Roman first broke the story of the Koshak foreclosure back in June, when deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Department evicted the family from a large home on Orange Park Boulevard, where the Koshaks had lived since 1996. The deputies' action stemmed from a 2004 loan agreement between a group of local investors and husband and wife Norman and Helen Koshak.
Records maintained by Orange County Superior Court show the loan saddled the Koshaks with a 12.6 percent interest rate and a $585,000 balloon payment. A year after signing, the couple soon found themselves in default. They refinanced with the same investors, using their house as collateral. On December 21, 2011, after multiple defaults, the investors foreclosed on the home, put it up for auction on the Orange County Courthouse steps, then bid on, and won, the property for $520,000.
In a verified complaint filed in OC Superior Court on February 28, Koshak family attorney Lenore Albert claims that malfeasance on the part of the lenders began with the first loan.
“The loan was predatory containing abusive terms, and the defendants knew or had reason to know that the plaintiff could never repay the loan on these terms,” the complaint read.
Albert also alleges that the lenders took Helen Koshak's signature from a note she signed in 2005, and fraudulently affixed it to a new note with higher monthly payments.
“Defendants deceived Mr. Koshak by sending him a note with different terms attached to his signature page,” the complaint alleged.
Investor Attorney Phil Green says claims of forgery are hogwash. “There was confusion because there were two versions of the first page of a note. Nothing was forged, they admitted they had signed the second page of the note and they got the money,” said Green.
While comments on Ustream and Facebook pages supporting the Koshak family continue to decry the dishonesty of the lenders, others are quick to point out there are two sides to every story. Lena Burlove, who was among the people working to clean out the Koshak property in recent weeks told the the Weekly her mother is one of the investors.
“If we didn't have the right to be here, I wouldn't be on the front lines,” she said.
Burlove added that after court costs are added up, the investors likely won't see a return on their money.
The Weekly also received an email from an anonymous source claiming to be one of the investors. Citing a fear of harassment and reprisal by the Koshak's attorney and supporters, the unknown source declined to reveal his or her identity. In the email, the source argued that the Koshaks were given every opportunity to repay their debt and were evicted three years after making their last payment. The source further claimed that the Koshaks were given multiple opportunities to retrieve their furniture, which was left behind after the eviction.
“Numerous attempts were made to get them to remove their belongings,” the source elaborated. “They ignored all attempts. We were left with no recourse but to publicly auction the items left on the property. The Koshaks ended up being the winning buyers of their own possessions at the auction, which was an avoidable expense had they responded to requests to remove their belongings when contacted by us over the previous 4 months.”
The Koshaks admit that they were eventually allowed on the property to retrieve their belongings, but weren't given enough time to remove the abundance of items contained throughout the property's multiple buildings.
The anonymous source maintains that investors have been harassed and threatened by Occupiers via social media for months, adding that Lena Burlove's personal information has been posted online.
“I am not a bank, and have never before acted as a lender on a trust deed such as this, nor will I ever do it again after this experience,” the source concluded.
Regardless of whose side you're on–Team Koshak, or Team Investor–years after foreclosure, the case continues to work its way through the court system. Future hearings are scheduled at the state and federal level.
“The problem with other homeowner lawsuits is they're out of the house, and the courts kill [their case] right away,” Albert said in a recent interview. “[The Koshak's] have been able to fight this whole time. They still have their foot in the door. They're still in the game.”