Samuel Davis says he was swindled out of his property and evicted from his home at 215 Chestnut St. in South Nashville in February 2022. The property had been in his family since 1937.
Davis took out a loan from Franklin American Mortgage in 2007. They sold the loan to J.P Morgan Chase. Chase foreclosed on the loan and sold the property to themselves in June 2012. Davis says the loan was not in default and that the foreclosure sale never should have happened.
The line of credit Davis obtained was processed as an FHA loan and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was guarantor. HUD inherited a lot of toxic loans during the 2008 recession. HUD forgave Davis his loan in 2012.
HUD paid J.P. Morgan $124,000 on June 7, 2012 discharging Davis’s debt. On the same day, Chase issued Davis a letter cancelling his debt. It should have ended there.
“Apparently, the lawyers, who alleged they represented JP Morgan Chase, determined that they could secure another piece of valuable property by other means,” said Walter Searcy, a well-known Nashville lawyer. He is now retired.
Searcy said those lawyers used forged documents, unverified statements, and lies to take another piece of Davis’s property.
“Not only did HUD make good on the only loan that he was paying on until they discharged the loan but he also had property that was seized that was not even subject to the loan, was not securing the loan, was not backing the loan. The loan was for one property but the seizure was for two properties,” Searcy said.
A deed of trust was later filed in federal court on the parcel naming HUD as the property owner of Parcel 249. But also on June 7, 2012, a deed of trust was filed in JP Morgan Chase’s name for the same property. That really sticks in Davis’s craw because HUD and Chase, two different parties, cannot hold title to the same property. That is really fishy.
“They cannot show a default on that loan,” Davis said, adding, “The alleged foreclosure was fraudulent.”
Davis said Chandler & Chandler, an Atlanta law firm, is behind the swindle. He faults the Nashville Register of Deeds for accepting false title papers with incorrect property descriptions.
“They took those fraudulent papers into court and that’s how they beat me. That’s how they covered up the swindle and fraud,” Davis told the Tribune.
Davis said JP Morgan Chase bank officials told him they do not own the property at 215 Chestnut St. and the Atlanta firm is acting without their authorization. However, they claimed to represent JP Morgan in the foreclosure sale of Davis’s Parcel 249, 1205 2nd Ave South.
“Since 2014 I’ve been trying to resolve the trickery that took both my parcels. Chandler & Chandler obtained a wrongful detainer warrant on behalf of JP Morgan Chase in 2012. They alleged that the loan was in default. “I wasn’t evicted from the Chestnut property until 2022. They’ve been trying to evict me for ten years,” Davis said.
JP Morgan Chase sold a special warranty deed on May 7, 2018 to a Nashville real estate company, Sovereign Investments.
James Hamilton is a lawyer who works for Nelson Mullins Riley and Mulligan, a large real estate law firm that does work for JP Morgan. Hamilton brokered a confidential agreement with Nathaniel Claybrooks of Sovereign Investment in 2018.
The agreement allowed Davis to buy back the property for $205,000. The agreement stated that Davis agreed to hand over the property on Chestnut St. to JP Morgan if he didn’t pay up within 90 days. Davis said someone forged his signature. At the time, he was at Trevecca Rehabilitation Center recovering from an amputation of his left leg from diabetes.
“I never signed that agreement. If they had sold it back to me it would have been extortion,” Davis said. He has the original title; none of the players who have taken the property from him have true legal title to it.
Fruit of a poisoned tree and Res Judicata
Davis filed a complaint in Chancery Court in September 2013 challenging the eviction of his tenant on parcel No. 249, 1203 2nd Ave South. Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle decided in the bank’s favor.
Davis fared no better in the 6th Circuit Court of Judge Thomas Brothers. He affirmed Lile’s decision under the legal doctrine called res judicata. It means “already decided”. Documents that passed muster in Lyle’s court were accepted as legal fact in Brothers court even though they were likely fraudulent.
Davis appealed. The appellate court dismissed the appeal, ruling that “Davis no longer owns the property” and that his appeal was “frivolous”. They sent the case back to Lyle to decide some matters of fact (the alleged fraud). Lyle once again sided with the bankers’ lawyers.
When civil courts denied him, Davis took his case to District Attorney General Glenn Funk in January 2022. Funk met with Davis three times and his investigators met with him several times.
Last week, Funk’s White Collar crime specialist, Chad Jackson, delivered the bad news. “I have not been able to find a way around the statute of limitations,” Jackson said. Depending upon the alleged crime, it runs out as early as two years but no longer than eight years after which it can’t be prosecuted by Funk’s office.
“What has been done cannot be undone. The law is not going to allow us to do any more, not by us through a criminal prosecution, and I think this is where it has to stop,” he said.
Davis can return to civil court to resolve the issue of who has a genuine property title but he has already lost there.
“We can’t use the criminal court to undo it,” Jackson said.
Franklin American Mortgage based in Franklin, Tennessee, extended Davis a line of credit in 2007. In 2015 the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $70 million settlement with the company for “improper and inadequate underwriting of mortgages insured by the federal government”. (See the DOJ press release here:
While Black homeowners were disproportionately impacted by predatory loans that led to the 2008 recession, many others, mostly poor working people, lost their homes and savings in the crash. Ten years later, Samuel Davis lost his family’s legacy and Nashville courts have not restored it.