Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Delinquent Tax Document Provides More Questions Than Answers

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Every year on the City of Minneapolis website, a list of tax-delinquent property owners gets published.  The list can be a bellwether for up-and-coming slumlords, or can be a way to find out which properties are owned by known bad actors (since the city's website doesn't allow for the public to search by owner name).  The 2012 list isn't out yet, but 2011 shows a common pattern many on the northside hadn't noticed before.  There is frequently a different "billpayer" than the taxpayer/property owner.  Why would this be?  Friends and neighbors, some of whom are more knowledgeable in housing intricacies than I am, haven't been able to figure this out.

Our first thought was that the difference in names indicated...

...that the taxpayer had sold the property on contract for deed, even if it was later reclaimed after a canceled contract.  Given the rise in slumlords using contracts for deed to avoid rental requirements, the taxpayer/billpayer switch might be one way to see which landlords are going down that path.

But when I researched some of the properties and owners at the records department of the Hennepin County Government Center, there weren't contracts for deed filed for the properties in question.  Scratch that.

In the same vein, we wondered if perhaps these were un-recorded contracts.  In Minnesota, it is incumbent on the buyer to record the purchase, and unscrupulous sellers will take advantage of less sophisticated buyers by not mentioning this to them.  When you're operating in the shadows, the fewer traces of what's happening, the better.  When both parties are shady, such transfers of ownership interest go unrecorded with even more frequency.

But if that were the case here, then what's triggering the system to recognize that a different person than the previously known owner is liable for the bill?  Something is still missing.

A super-nerdy possibility arose:  What if the billpayer bought up the back tax amount from the current taxpayer, in an attempt to gain a toehold to property interest?  (After a while, the person who paid the back taxes could start their own forfeiture process.)  But this practice isn't available in Minnesota.

The most likely scenario we've come up with is that the billpayers are previous or current renters.  Maybe they got stuck with the water bill.  Even then, that appears unlikely, as the water bill stays with the property and not with a specific party.  (Horror stories abound about new homeowners who were unaware of this technicality and got stuck with a tremendous bill shortly after closing.)

So we are still left grasping at straws.  How are the taxpayer and billpayer connected here?  Once that is known, how could that knowledge help us understand the behavior of the particular species slumicus erus rex?  If any readers know, please share.

In the meantime, I ran a search of this document using the names of four of our most notorious problem property owners:  Mahmood Khan, Bashir Moghul, Keith Reitman, and Stephen Meldahl.  Reitman continued his claim to fame of "not the best, not the worst," in that he had delinquent taxes but none in the nature described here.  All of the other three had at least a few such cases.  So I am publishing the tally of the past due amounts attributed to the taxpayer, the same category attributed to the mysterious yet eponymous billpayer, and the names of those billpayers as well.

The document isn't searchable by our friendly Google-bots, so hopefully putting the names of these people in a blog format will generate some results when they search for their own name.  To be clear, I am not even insinuating that these folks have done anything untoward at this time.  They may not even be aware that they are listed as a billpayer, and while those amounts are often quite low, a few total in the thousands of dollars.  Bear in mind, this is just for 2011 taxes, although the amounts could be reflective of previous years as well.  But the list shouldn't be considered the sum total of back taxes owed.  The final disclaimer is that these amounts were past due and may be paid by now.  With all that out of the way, here goes:

Bashir Moghul

Bashir owed $5,409.97 in back taxes under his own name.  Another $2,223.50 is owed on his properties, but in different billpayer names.  Those names are:

Entrust Midwest LLC
Hennepin Forfeited Land
Next Level One Transportation
Shereka Campbell
Antonia Pinkerton
Katherine Cato

Mahmood Khan

Khan owed$12,445.86 on his own.  Other billpayers owed almost an equal amount, $12,187.21.  They were:

Robert Lee Collins Jr
Chasity J Donnell
Dorothy Bright
Manoucher Rastankhani, Rastamkhani
Frererico B Rio
Charles Morris
Nina McKinnley
Keon Cook Sr.
Lateisha Mason
Kimberly Sherri Jackson
Donald R Ford
Dianna Jones
Jessie Starks Jr.
Robin Hassell
Debra Perry
Lucas Bland
Chevon Sampson
Jacqueline Lloyd
Kenneshia Taper
Kimberly Sherri Jackson
Terry A Lewis
Latina Pearce

Stephen Meldahl

And finally we have Stephen Meldahl, who takes the cake for back taxes owed.  He had a tally of $10,280.63, but other billpayers racked up almost $31,000 on his behalf.  Those lucky folks are:

Aqeisha Wells
Kim Green
Edwin Vaughn
Antonio Stewart
Harrison Woodard
Jarita Beasley
Sean Brown
Venus Roberts
Cherita Fisher
Natasha Madison
Lillian Harris
Latina Cyrus
Edwin Vaughn
Latoshia Norris
Nicole Ashton
Jackie Walker
Bruce Erickson
Brady S Robinson
Renee Bloodshaw
Brittany Suttles
Keesha Brewer
Rich Harper Jr
Inter Savings Bank
Marquita Wright
Tanisha Riler
Bettina West
Judith Naadi
Ronald Jones
Messerschmidt Holdings Inc.
Joann Odom
Desha Spencer
Coleman Clay
Talisha Walker
Maria Cvar
Lakeysha Salters
Erika Burgess
Best Assets
Arlene Taylor
Nathaniel Wilder
Joe Terney
Lakita Vaughn
Dorothy Bright
Georgette Vaughn
Ira Dickerson
Kaya Harvey
Tiffany Hill
Larry Davis
Lynda Willis
Josie Zarling
Terrance McFarland
Lolita Stevenson
Gencie Benson
Jeanette Jackson
Bridget Bosley
Mirza Washington
Charynka Henry
Diedre Draper
Tamika Vaughn
Dominique Addison
Lilian Morehouse
Rockeesha Bonner
Stacy Zeiber
Vicky Glenn
Mahelia Bolden
Andrea Armstrong
Minnie Thompson
Julie Johnson
Michael Bright
Chiquita Thomas
Jordan Davis

What does this mean for north Minneapolis?  Time, and hopefully information shared here, will tell.


  1. Send an email asking this to someone in authority at the city.

    1. I did and haven't got a response. I figure I'll shake the tree, so to speak, and see what comes of it.

  2. Whats up with Paul Koenig and Pamiko? or Pamko?

    1. So far as anyone knows, Koenig and his various LLC's are still out of the property ownership game in north Minneapolis, and his bankruptcy case plods along.

  3. You said, "I ran a search of this document using the names of four of our most notorious problem property owners: Mahmood Khan, Bashir Moghul, Keith Reitman, and Stephen Meldahl."//

    Please advise me, and your readership, how YOU define the term "problem property owner" that you broadly and smugly shotgun out. Then please explain why I would EVER qualify as a "problem property owner".//

    Fact: Mostly without exception, for years and decades, my properties owned and the folks residing therein, have not caused any repeat problems to the community. Disclaimer: As a rental property owner, I am forced to deal after the fact sometimes. I must be reactive after being proactive. When, now and then, my tenant suddenly becomes a criminal and I learn of that occurence, he gets tossed out pronto.

    1. Mr. Reitman,

      To your credit, I am having trouble remembering a community meeting where behavior of your tenants was a significant concern. By that measure, you seem to manage your rentals and screen tenants better than the other landlords that are frequent targets of complaint in north Minneapolis.

      Similarly, when I search for tax delinquencies, you have very little that shows up. You pay taxes and assessments more responsibly than these other bad actors.

      Where you fall into my perception of a "problem property owner" is in your strategy of acquiring houses on key corridors or highly visible nodes. You then do little to maintain or improve the exteriors. The dilapidated structures often sit with no work being done until other development comes along or until they need to be demolished.

      In that regard, your properties are not the worst, but the ones that are blighted in some way are among the most visible substandard properties in our community.

    2. And I, if, if I told you that we'd rather pull the curtains than pull a permit, you can believe that.
      You know,so. You know, it's, it's not something, as, as an ongoing landlord, I generally boast about. But this matter sounds more serious that whether I pulled or Jim pulled a permit or not.
      Like, like on the boiler. Um, we had, I used the lead, or not lead, asbestos abatement guy to come in and remove the old boiler and uh, I'm not sure about putting in the new boiler for instance. I don't think we pulled a permit.
      For example.
      Which a lot of people do, I'm just, like I said...

  4. That journalistic "shake the tree" method?

    I totally taught that to Jeff. Over the phone, in a truck stop parking lot, with a "sausage on stick" in my hand.

    To Jeff: Did NONE of those people have middle names or middle initials? Sometimes that little piece of info is very helpful to narrow down who they are when pawing through public records.

    1. All of the names listed here appear exactly as they did on the original document.

  5. When I bought my house, there were back taxes owed on it that the bank had to eat at closing. Perhaps that could account for some of these instances?

  6. So, if these homes are sold contract for deed, and the buyer fails to make tax payments - does the tax bill stick with the structure or the "property owner"?

  7. No offense, but you are not the brightest bulb, to say the least. If you look closely at the addresses for Kahn and Meldahl, they are all single family homes. These are all tenant owed water bills! Why does the City let tenants run up huge water bills? They shut me off last year and my bill was only $89, though I was 2 months behind. Looks like another case of the City totally screwing up again. Nothing ever changes with those idiots!

    1. Some of the bills were as low as $15 and others were over $3,000. A water bill of several thousand dollars is possible, but unlikely. Furthermore, I do have an email from someone that offers a credible explanation on how these could be associated with either previous owners or inaccurate contract for deed filings. I'm working on getting permission to publish that, and will have it up soon.


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