Parren Mitchell may lose home

Firm files foreclosure suit on W. Baltimore property

About $3,500 owed

Former congressman has until Dec. 9. to pay debt

October 13, 2002|By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ivan Penn | Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A Florida firm is foreclosing on the West Baltimore home of former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, due to the nonpayment of city fees, penalties and interest totaling nearly $3,500.

Mitchell's property at 828 N. Carrollton Ave. was one of 10 city properties listed in a foreclosure lawsuit filed late last month in Baltimore Circuit Court. The Florida firm, Quail Roost Properties Inc., which purchased the rights to the properties in September, filed the lawsuit.

The city originally sold the rights to the property in a tax sale last year to an affiliate of Quail Roost for $1,795.94, which was the amount owed to the city, according to court records. Interest and penalties, according to attorneys for Quail Roost, have since boosted the total due to nearly $3,500.

On Friday, city officials declined to provide a breakdown of the assessments, which generally include property taxes and water and sewer charges.

Mitchell has until Dec. 9 to pay the amount due to redeem the property, according to the lawsuit. City land records show the Carrollton Avenue property is owned by a trust with Parren Mitchell and Michael B. Mitchell Sr., the nephew of the former congressman, listed as trustees. Both Mitchells are named in the lawsuit.

Arthur M. Frank, a lawyer who represents Parren Mitchell and who has assumed responsibility for the congressman's financial affairs, said he was unaware of any action being taken against Mitchell's home.

He said the mortgage payments on the property have been kept current and that the Mitchells had intended to sell the property.

"I didn't even know foreclosure papers were being filed on the home," Frank said. "I'm sure we'll redeem it. Unfortunately, the taxing authorities never sent that paperwork to me."

Michael Mitchell did not respond to a request for comment.

Court records indicate a notice was sent to Michael Mitchell and to Parren Mitchell. A notice was also posted on the property. Notices of tax sales also are published annually by the city.

The foreclosure action is but the latest in a series of financial problems to beset the ailing civil rights leader, who has been living in a nursing home for three years after suffering multiple strokes.

The Sun reported this year that the congressman's bills for his care at Keswick Multi-Care Center in Roland Park had gone unpaid. He also is being sued for $16,004.97 by the General Motors Acceptance Corp. for failing to make payments on a car purchased by Michael Mitchell in his uncle's name.

The attorney for Mitchell has filed a counterclaim against an insurance agent who sold a policy covering the 1998 Buick and two other vehicles owned by Michael B. Mitchell. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Oct. 24.

Attorneys for GMAC sued the elder Mitchell after the car was extensively damaged in a Dec. 12, 2000, collision with a truck. Michael Mitchell was driving the car at the time of the accident.

The elder Mitchell also has been hit with state and federal tax liens totaling $25,532, records show.

In addition to the amounts owed to the city, land records show there are two outstanding mortgages on the Carrollton Avenue property, one for $51,154.25 and a second for $60,000.

Mitchell, according to estimates by the National Taxpayers Union, draws a congressional pension estimated at a little more than $60,000 annually. He retired from Congress in 1986, ending a career in which he championed the rights of minorities.

Michael Mitchell, a former city councilman and state senator who served a federal prison term after being convicted of attempting to obstruct a federal investigation, has had financial difficulties of his own, including state and federal tax liens of nearly $300,000.

Michael Mitchell had been acting as the overseer of his uncle's finances for several years, but stepped aside this year after the reports of the unpaid bills.

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