Glenn Straub, the 73-year-old developer of Palm Beach Polo, is facing three felony charges related to a bitter dispute with his girlfriend. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison. His ex-girlfriend, Jessica Nicodemo, is accusing Straub of filing fraudulent liens against her properties after their relationship came to an acrimonious end. He is also accused of grand theft of a sum less than $100,000.
Nicodemo has also filed a civil lawsuit against Straub which remains open. She has also accused Straub of physically threatening her, but that is not a part of the criminal complaint.
What is a Fraudulent Lien?
Liens are placed on a property for all types of reasons. One of the most common are construction liens in which the value of the work performed is secured against the value of a property built. Liens can be placed on a property for unpaid debts and are automatically placed on mortgaged homes or vehicles that you are still making payments on. Essentially, the lien ensures that if the debtor does not make payments on their loan, then the lender is entitled to take possession of the property and sell it off.
The courts don’t ask a lot of questions (necessarily) when an individual demand a lien be placed on a property. If the lien is fraudulent, there are remedies at the disposal of the injured party and it’s still a crime to use phony information to place a lien on real estate. The process is known as title clouding and it can create serious problems for the owner, especially when they want to sell the property.
A fraudulent lien is defined in Florida Statute Section 713.31 as an exaggeration of the lien amount, a lien for services that were never rendered, or any other untruth offered up as a reason to place a lien on a property. Claiming that a lien is fraudulent is considered a complete defense in a lien hearing under civil law. But it’s also a crime to place a lien on a property under false pretenses and it’s a felony with a five-year maximum penalty.
Is This Lien Fraudulent?
There’s enough gray here to make it seem like Straub will probably not be charged with a crime—at least not a crime for placing a fraudulent lien on a property. According to the best available evidence, Straub performed $77,000 worth of work for Nicodemo on her place of residence, but the two never discussed money, nor does there appear to be any contract. When the two broke up, Straub came calling for the money, placing a lien on her home. While the lien is unlikely to be considered valid, the criminal charges are unlikely to go anywhere.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with felony fraud, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. can help you defend yourself in court. Give us a call or talk to us online to schedule your appointment today.