…or why Kent Hovind is going on trial again.
This was written for an acquaintance who wanted to understand how the results of a 2006 case can reverberate into 2015.
First of all, keep in mind that Kent and Jo Hovind were found liable for $430,400 in forfeitures after they were found guilty of structuring. (This was a separate part of the jury deliberations.) The next step would be that the government would want to seize money, as it is nice and fungible, to pay this forfeiture.
The Order Forfeiting Substitute Property (document 212) says first that Kent and Jo Hovind have apparently moved $430,400 or the forfeited monies cannot be found. Remember from the trial that these were withdrawals, and, I suspect, cash wage payments to employees, so it makes sense to me that there wouldn’t be $430,400 in cash available. Moreover, the last structuring withdrawal Kent and Jo Hovind were convicted of occurred on August 9, 2002, almost five years previously.
Since the money is not there, the government submitted a motion to take certain listed bank accounts and properties owned by various entities related to Kent and Jo Hovind as substitute property, sell the properties, and apply the proceeds to the forfeiture. (One bank account was in the name of Creation Science Evangelism Foundation.)
The 2007 order makes more sense if you go through a subsequent order (document 325) from July 29, 2009, regarding the Wachovia bank account and properties the government wants to seize. The U.S. asked for this order because of the tangled nature of the ownership of the bank account and parcels. Kent Hovind had bought a “ministerial package” from Glen Stoll, a non-lawyer running “Remedies at Law” up in Washington state. As part of that, Kent restructured his organizations and put the various parcels into trusts, conveying the properties and one bank account to Glen Stoll as trustee. The court found that Stoll was a “nominee title holder” for all but one of the properties in question and exercised no real control over the properties. The same could be said of the bank account, which was in the name of the CSE Foundation, and only Kent, Jo and Tanya (daughter-in-law) Hovind could write checks on the account. Stoll did not pay the property taxes and he was not part of the property leases. On page 12 of the order, Judge Rodgers found that Stoll had no interest in the properties.
However, Eric Hovind was able to show that he was the owner of 23 Cummings Road, because it was not in a trust like the other parcels. Eric held actual title to the property, the property had been conveyed to Eric in 2000, which is before the time of the criminal actions, Eric had paid property taxes and he’d made $70,000 worth of improvements to the property (pages 13-14). Consequently, Eric was not a “nominee title holder” and the U.S. was not permitted to take his house.
Finally, the government was ordered to sell the remaining properties now given to it as a result of this order in a piecemeal fashion, up to the $430,400 owed by the Hovinds. Any overage of funds and remaining properties were to be given back to the Hovinds.
Which brings us to the 2012 order against Creation Science Evangelism, etc.
After the properties dealt with in Document 325 were conveyed to the government, Kent’s co-defendant Paul John Hansen, apparently tried to file liens on the properties as Glen Stoll’s successor as director of the trusts which had previously owned the properties. He also tried to file a Quiet Title action in state court to have himself as trustee declared owner of the properties (at least, I’m assuming, having not seen the docs). This was removed to federal court and dismissed.
However, Hansen’s liens remained on the public records of Escambia County, and created a cloud on the title. Unless you’re crazy, you don’t buy real property with a cloud on the title. No title company will issue a policy for a property with a cloud on the title. Therefore, the US filed a separate case against the listed entities and then a motion for this order, to remove the liens and prohibit the defendants (CSE, etc.) from filing any more liens on the properties. The order notes that none of the entities named in the order responded to the judge’s order in the case to lawyer up. Therefore the judge issued a default summary judgment and order for the U.S. to take the properties. As written in point 3 on page 7:
3. Defendants are hereby permanently enjoined from interfering with the rights of the United States of America in and to the property described above in any manner including fling or attempting to file liens, claims or other encumbrances in any manner whatsoever without a prior order of this court. Defendants are also enjoined from filing or attempting to file, directly or through the services of others, new notices of lien, indebtedness, claims or purported liens, of whatever nature, with the Clerk of Court in and for Escambia County, Florida, on any property forfeited to the United States.
This is the basis of the current criminal charges against Kent Hovind and Paul John Hansen. The U.S. government alleges they committed mail fraud by filing or having filed lis pendens (which is a notice of a lawsuit which could affect ownership) on four properties now owned by the USA. Consequently, it put another cloud on the title. (As a side note, apparently the lawsuit Kent thought would be sufficient as a vehicle for the lis pendens was his Bivens action against the Bureau of Prisons for not giving him his legal documents for–he says–20 months.
It is uncertain what the status of the Bivens complaint is. Hovind’s appeal of his Bivens complaint to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was dismissed on January 6, 2015 for failure to prosecute.) Judge Rodgers discharged the lis pendens in October 2013.