Ravens' Searcy accused of breaking contract to buy Reisterstown house

Owner says player, wife reneged after upgrades

October 30, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County accountant has sued Baltimore Ravens tackle Leon Searcy for breaking a contract to buy a house in Reisterstown for $699,999 last spring.

The suit, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court this month, alleges that Searcy and his wife, Sonya, reneged on an agreement, signed April 14, to buy a house in the 3800 block of Timber View Way with two kitchens, two living rooms, five bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms.

The owner of the house, Donald N. Hoffman, a certified public accountant and businessman, claims in his suit that he made improvements to the house at the Searcys' request, spending $11,500 to install new carpet, and upgrade the roof, electricity and plumbing. Hoffman also wrote to the Searcys in May, saying he had given away furniture, dishes and his dog in preparation for the move.

Hoffman is seeking $155,000 in expenses and attorney's fees, according to his lawyer, Julie R. Goldberg of Baltimore.

According to the suit, the Searcys backed out of the contract May 5 after a mortgage company denied their application because of "delinquent past or present credit obligations to others."

The Searcys' lawyer, Michael R. Freed of Jacksonville, Fla., said yesterday that his client did not illegally break the contract.

"The contract had a contingency where if certain financing wasn't available, the Searcys would not have to purchase the house. And that financing was not available ... so they acted within their contractual rights," he said.

Searcy, who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years, signed a six-year contract with the Ravens in the spring for $31.5 million and a $3 million signing bonus. Because of an injury, he has yet to play a game for the Ravens.

A day before canceling the contract, Searcy was arrested at his home in Clermont, Fla., and accused of kicking his wife in the leg. The case did not go to trial, but Searcy served a one-day suspension this month for violating the National Football League's personal-conduct code.

The Baltimore County suit claims that the Searcys were obligated to continue looking for financing for 30 days but backed out two weeks early. Hoffman also claims that he arranged financing through another mortgage company for the Searcys.

Freed said his clients had no evidence that Hoffman had secured financing for them.

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