The objector and the rebel who raises his voice against what he believes to be the injustice of the present and the wrongs of the past is the one who hunches the world along."-- Clarence S. Darrow -1857-1938: Address to the Court, The Communist Trial, People v. Lloyd, 1920
WHEN A DRUG FAMILY CAME INTO SHADOW CREST HOA
What You Need to Know:
This is the true story of corruption, concealment, and conspiracy between a homeowner's association, a police department, city, county and state governments, and the courts.
When I purchased my home in Shadow Crest Homeowners Association (HOA) in Cathedral City, California in 1996 I knew nothing about HOAs being entities that exist purely for the development, sale, and administration of residential real estate, and that every aspect of my life within the HOA would be governed by the association -- from the kind of shrubs I could plant, to whether or not certain pets would be allowed, to the color of the mail boxes. I was not even given a copy of the Rules, Bylaws, nor the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) until escrow had closed, and even then, because of the pages and pages of legalese I had no idea that what I had initialed at Closing was a binding adhesion contract with a private corporation and that I had surrendered my constitutional rights and civil liberties to the will and whim of the HOA, and its vocal and active, albeit minority of the Board of Directors. It would be months later that I would come to truly understand that I did not even own my own property but was only a shareholder in a non-profit corporation.
However, in my ignorance, the first few months were wonderful, and peaceful, and I loved my home.
Across the street lived the elderly 82-year-old widow, Marie Bockman. She was one of the first to buy in Shadow Crest Homeowners Association when the price of these homes far exceeded their true value in a falling real estate market in the Palm Springs, California area -- and fall it did in early 1996, with homes selling for almost one third of their original value. Marie often found herself unable to meet the high mortgage payments and had to resort to renting out most of her large four-bedroom home while she lived in the small back bedroom, which was against the terms of the CC&Rs, but was over-looked by everyone. She was trying to sell her home.
Marie had several renters, but in mid 1996 she allowed the Edward and Lolitta Riddle family to move in, along with their two sons, Nathan and Eddie. They would prove to be her last renters, and her downfall financially, physically and mentally. They made promises that they would buy her home, and Marie saw them as the answer to being able to save a little of her investment.
From the first night the Riddles moved in there were strange goings on. Cars coming and going about every 15 minutes, with drivers openly picking up small packages, and exchanging money; it looked very much like drug dealing was going on.
I approached the board: they didn't want to be involved, and, I was not yet aware of the case law that causes every homeowner association board of directors to have a fiduciary duty to every titleholder. "HOA boards owe an objective duty of reasonable care, akin to that of a landlord to his tenants." Larriden v. LaJolla Shores (1999) 21 Cal.4th 249, 87 Cal.Rptr.2d 237; and, "Where parties occupy a confidential or fiduciary relationship, deception as to the state of the law constitutes a fraudulent representation." Bank of America v. Sanchez, 3 Cal.App.2d 238, 242 [38 P.2d 787]; Mathewson v. Naylor, 18 Cal.App.2d 741,744 [64 P.2d 979].
I approached neighbors: they didn't want to be involved. I certainly didn't know, and they either didn't know, or ignored their legal responsibility: "There is a legal duty, which every person owes to others- that is, a duty to refrain from conduct that imposes an unreasonable risk of injury on third parties" Lamden v La Jolla Shores Clubdoninium HOA (1999) 21 Cal.4th 249, and, "Each individual owner has an economic interest in the proper business management of the development as a whole for the sake of maximizing the value of his or her investment... On the other hand, each individual owner, at least while residing in the development, has a personal, not strictly economic, [21 Cal.4th 267] interest in the appropriate management of the development for the sake of maintaining its security against criminal conduct and other foreseeable risks of physical injury. In this aspect, the relationship between owner and association is somewhat analogous to that between tenant and landlord." Frances T. v. Village Green Owners Assn. (1986) 42 Cal.3d 490, 499-501 [229 Cal.Rptr. 456, 723 P.2d 573, 59 [3 Cal.App.4th 429] A.L.R.4th 447
And, along with this it would have been to my advantage to have known that The California Supreme Court had noted a general "right...to be free from acts constituting duress" Leeper v. Beltrami (1959) 53 Cal.2d. 195 and the propriety of a "cause of action for wrongful acts in the nature of duress...examples of such wrongful acts include a bad faith threat to breach a contract ..." Rich Whillock v. Ashton Development, 157 Cal. App. 3d at p.1159
Finally, frustrated! I called The Cathedral City Police: I didn't realize that it would be difficult to get the police to offer the same services to me in a private corporation, an HOA, as they do to those which are not HOAs, despite being paid by the same taxes everyone pays to hire them. And, in this do cities not only expect HOAs to maintain themselves, but they also require that HOAs protect themselves, often encouraging them to hire unarmed security guards to do the job of policing themselves.
Officer Glenn Haas, working with Neighborhood Watch, asked if I would begin to take down license plate numbers and give him the list. Naively I agreed, considering it the responsible thing to do, but not considering the consequences. I thought the police would protect me. I was wrong!
The police department did send out Officer Scott Sharpe to speak with the Shadow Crest community. The board refused to participate, and only 10 or 12 people, out of 42 households showed up for the meeting. Officer Sharpe talked openly about the Riddle family members, who he said were well known to the police: He told us that just prior to moving into Shadow Crest HOA, Lolita Riddle was allegedly suspected of arson, Case: CIV089430 - RIDDLE VS. STATE FARM INSURANCE 05/24/1996 and her son “Eddie” had already been arrested, and spent time in jail for drugs, and attempted murder, Case: ICR20863 Indio, Superior Court, Defendant 14650 RIDDLE, EDWARD, 10/07/1994; Case: ICR22594 Indio Superior Court, Defendant 14650 RIDDLE, EDWARD, 06/15/1995, and was out on probation. Sharpe advised that if each of us at this meeting would file a $5,000. Small Claims lawsuit against the Riddles for "negligent nuisance" that would most likely drive them out in a month as they would not be able to stand up to these many lawsuits. When the board heard of this proposal they refused to support this advice, and further refused to be involved.
Keep in mind: "It has been shown that police are plainly the key to order... communities cannot do the job by themselves and no citizen in a neighborhood, even an organized one, is likely to feel the sense of responsibility that wearing a badge confers.
Psychologists have done many studies on why people fail to go to the aid of persons ...seeking help, and they have learned that the cause is not 'apathy' or 'selfishness' but the absence of some plausible grounds for feeling that one must personally accept responsibility. Ironically, avoiding responsibility is easier when a lot of people are standing about." http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/crime/windows.htm
The Atlantic Monthly; March 1982; Broken Windows; Volume 249, No. 3; pages 29-38.
On Thanksgiving Day, the John Weiser family, relatives to the Riddle family moved in next door, and began that very day to join them in the persecution of my family, gathering out front with open name calling. Later they also set out to join forces with the board of directors, against me, with John soon being placed onto the board as Treasurer. (John Weiser would later hit me with his car, while I was on foot; I received no help from the Cathedral City Police, the District Attorney, or the court.)
I continued to write down and turn in license plate numbers to the police. One night I was caught and my life, along with my daughter's, and the hardest of all, my ten-year old grandson's life was threatened; our lives became miserable. The board still refused to act, and so did the neighbors, who refused to even look out their window when drug dealing was going on right in the middle of the street, and at the community pool. The police were not helpful, and I complained about Officer Glenn Haas in particular, who let it be known to the Riddles that I was helping him. My complaint against him would prove to cause me great harm from him, and his fellow officer in the future, when he would slander me in order to protect himself.
I boldly approached Marie Bockman and warned her of what was going on. She took a defensive posture and told me, "They are going to buy my home and I need them to stay." She told me she had already put them on the deed.
I started a one-page newsletter, speaking out about what was happening in the neighborhood, and the lack of help from the board. The board then authorized the association Attorney, Wayne Guralnick and his associate, Attorney, Kendel Berke, (who would later become the Cathedral City Assistant City Attorney) to send several letters to me threatening a lawsuit if I continued to write and distribute the newsletter. However, I did know that the ACLU has taken a stand on this issue: "It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment: 'Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'" The newsletter was legal and protected free speech; I continued to write.
A couple of homeowners secretly applauded me, but only one stood up to the drug dealers, and the board -- John Farrell. He became a true hero in his efforts to have the Riddle family put out. Still, the board and other homeowners chose to turn a blind eye to my plight, and that of their elderly neighbor, Marie Bockman.
Eddie was finally arrested for drugs and weapons a few weeks later, Case: INF027519, Indio Superior Court, Defendant 14650 RIDDLE, EDWARD 07/22/1997 but he only received a slap on the hand from a Deputy District Attorney, Archie Wong, and was soon back home. His drug dealing became more covert, but his threats and harassment against my family grew more intense, to the point that the police advised me to obtain a restraining order. When I arrived at court I was met by the Riddle family and several large, intimidating men outside the courtroom. I was so nervous that when I went before the judge I said, "Just give us a mutual order" The judge asked if that was really what I wanted. I was physically shaking. "Yes," I replied. I thought at least that would be some protection. Again, I was wrong.
The drug problems grew worse, and the threats now were out in the open. My ten-year old grandson was afraid to go anywhere in the community alone as the Riddles had openly said to him, "We are going to hire a hit man to kill you!"
The neighbors grew worse in their selective ignorance, and as has been often noted, "all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing."
Finally, months later, Eddie Riddle was again arrested, this time for burglary on a neighborhood home, and this time he was sent to prison. Case: INF029011 Indio Superior Court, Defendant 14650 RIDDLE, EDWARD NMN, 02/10/1998
The day he was arrested Lollita Riddle shouted at me from across the street, "I will get you!"
After a few weeks, Lollita Riddle stopped paying her share of the mortgage, as well as the association dues. There were reports that Lollita was abusing Marie. At least one police incident report was taken, and an elder abuse worker was called. Marie tried to have the Riddles taken off the deed, but it was too late; she was about to lose her home.
Soon a “NOTICE of FORECLOSURE,” Case: INC011495 - SHADOWCREST HOMEOWNERS VS BOCKMAN 03/25/1999 brought by Shadow Crest attorney, Wayne Guralnick, was pasted to Marie's door by the Sheriff's office. What none of us knew at the time of the final close of this order, was that Shadow Crest HOA was "suspended as a corporation" and could not foreclose on Marie. "A corporation suspended for failure to file a required information statement with the California Secretary of State, may not prosecute or defend a lawsuit. Palm Valley Homeowners Assn. v. Design MTC (2001) 85 Cal.App.4th 553, 102 Cal.Rptr.2d 350. But we didn't know, and so the foreclosure went on.
California has a non-judicial [without due process of the courts] foreclosure law that affects mostly the elderly and poor, who are often ignorant of the law, and usually have no money to fight in the legal system. (More on this in the future)
The day Marie moved from her home was a sad day. She stood on the lawn in front of her home, alone, waiting for a ride to take her away. She looked at me, and I at her, there were tears in both our eyes and Marie could only waive a forlorn good bye. I cried at her leaving and at the open disregard of her neighbors, people who had known Marie for ten years - they only needed to have the courage to get involved, and speak out against the evil that had slithered into Marie's home, and the lives of all of us. Every one of her neighbors knew what was going on, but almost all of them chose to do nothing --to not be involved.
Sometime later I talked with Marie's brother. He told me that Marie was in a nursing home near San Diego, and she had lost her mind.
Lollita Riddle stayed on in Marie's home while her son was in jail, not paying the mortgage, nor the association dues, but it was fairly quiet in the neighborhood. No more drug-dealing anyway.
One Saturday morning, as I returned from the store I noticed my grandson's BB gun in the trunk of the car. I also saw Lollitta Riddle watching me from across the street. I put the plastic grocery bags over my arms, and the BB gun under my arm, ignoring Lollita I walked into my home to prepare breakfast for my family, and company that was soon to arrive.
Fifteen minutes later the phone rang and it was the police telling me to "come out with your hands visible." Lollita had lied, saying I had pointed a gun at her. Lollita Riddle then made a citizens arrest, I went to jail, and, a few months later I went into the Indio, California, Criminal Court, as a pro per, and conducted a four-day jury trial to defend myself. Every juror found me not guilty. I will tell you, it wasn't because I did such a good job as a pro per in my defense, rather, it was because the evidence was so obviously in my favor, in spite of the obvious lies on the stand of Lollita, and the Weiser family, and the presentation of doctored papers by the Deputy District Attorney, Archie Wong. Several jury members commented to me afterwards that they didn't understand why the case had even been brought against me. This story will follow in the near future.
Archie Wong, who knew the history of the Riddle family, having prosecuted Eddie Riddle more than once, was the Deputy District Attorney on my case. After losing this case, he gave up his job with the Riverside County District Attorney, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked for a non-profit agency for several years. Today he is working for the San Francisco District Attorney.
I have never received any help from the Riverside County Assistant District Attorney, Indio, CA office, Sue Steding, and there is proof that that Deputy District Attorney, Charles John Gianguzi Jr did conspire with CCPD Sergeant, Charles Robinson and my HOA board members to try and have me arrested, since winning my case, and, I suppose to avoid embarrassment, and to take away my credibility they have had my case removed from the public computer files. (Sergeant Robinson also had an ulterior motive, and I will write that story in the future.)
CASE: INM 089407, Indio Superior Court, California, 06/10/1999: Available upon request from the Archives of Larson Justice Center, Superior Court, Indio, California.
My heart and mind is that of an advocate, and has been for as long as I can remember. But I needed to count the cost before putting my hand to the plow of advocacy. There is more to this story that I plan to tell on this site, in the near future -- I picked up the gauntlet against a crooked homeowners association board, a irresponsible and corrupt Cathedral City Police Department including Chief Stan Henry, (who was sued by his own officers for civil rights violations -- and they won!) and City Counsel, a CAI structured management company, HOA attorneys, and even a dishonest Assemblywoman, Bonnie Garcia all of whom figuratively and literally beat-me-up rather than take a stand against all that is evil in my HOA. There is definately more to be written on this in the near future.
I lost my home, my car and over $100,000, as well as over a year of my freedom where I suffered much abuse. I was in Appeal Court, challenging the bogus, "void on the face" retraining order of Cathedral City, Case: INC 043437 Riverside County Superior Court, Indio, CA when I was falsely arrested by District Attorney Investigator Twist, but I intend to attempt to use the law to continue to fight for my rights, and to have this story told.
This is but a bare-bones beginning of my story, which are the notes for a book based on my personal experience in a California, Non-profit Corporate, Homeowner's Association.
To be continued...