‘Intrusion warrant’ issued for woman who reoccupied her house
Ken Watts | 9/13/2013, 6 a.m.
DeKalb Sheriff’s deputies are trying to serve an “intrusion warrant” on Toni Furman, who was evicted from her Lithonia home in May.
Furman, who reoccupied her Stoneleigh Hill Road home on June 10 with the help of Reoccupy Our Homes Atlanta and civil rights activists, says deputies have tried to serve the warrant but she wasn’t home.
“My neighbors told me two deputies in separate patrol cars came to the house while I was gone,” Furman said Sept. 10. “After they realized no one was home, they attached a notice to the doorknob and left.”
She has owned the house for 18 years and claims that Cenlar Mortgage, a New Jersey-based loan servicing company, evicted her unlawfully on May 7.
Warrants have to be served in person.
“The two patrol cars make me think that they were here to arrest me,” Furman said.
Tim Franzen, a spokesman for Occupy Our Homes, said his group is not familiar with the intrusion warrant.
“We’ve never seen anything like it,” he said Sept. 12. “We’re not sure what it means.”
Franzen said Cenlar has had more than 1,000 calls from their network about Furman since she reoccupied her house.
“And we’ve sent them countless e-mails,” he said. “They know she’s in the house so the normal course of action is an eviction notice, which involves a familiar due process which would give Toni her day in court. Does this ‘intrusion notice’ make her subject to arrest? We’re trying to get answers.”
Cenlar did not answer requests for a response.
DeKalb Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Cal Jones did not respond by press time Thursday.
Furman’s mortgage troubles began with the collapse of her marriage in 2008. The court awarded the house to Furman, but with the divorce and legal fees she began to fall behind on the mortgage.
She said she applied for a loan modification and even took on extra work to afford the monthly note, but without her ex-husband’s signature, the application was rejected.
Furman, who is a substitute science teacher, said she did continue to make payments but sometimes could only come up with part of the amount due.
She managed to stop several foreclosure attempts with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and several community groups.
Furman believes Cenlar was eager to grab the property because the house has about $100,000 in equity, which makes it a rare and attractive find for anyone planning to sell it quickly. In addition to the faulty eviction papers, she claims the company used a procedural maneuver.
“Cenlar strategically foreclosed on the wrong deed, making it difficult to stop the process,” she said. “Many lawyers told me it was a wrongful foreclosure but I didn’t have any money for legal fees.”
Veteran Atlanta civil rights activist Joe Beasley, who helped her reoccupy her home, said Thursday he is working with Occupy Our Homes and has contacted the Davis Bozeman Law Firm in Decatur about the case and had a meeting scheduled for Sept. 13.
Furman said her plight has attracted attention from around the country even as the national foreclosure rate continues to decline.
“PBS wants to interview me as part of a documentary on the status of the American Dream,” she said with no trace of irony in her voice. “Sometime in the next six weeks.”