Do not purchase property within the Newington Forest Community Association or which is otherwise represented by Rees Broome and/or affiliated with the Community Associations Institute. These groups collude with each other to extort money from homeowners in order to unduly enrich themselves and their principals. In my case, in addition to all ofother numerous abuses to which I was subjected at the hands of these (alleged) criminals, the NFCA community trumped up violations against me. The citations were simply nonexistent. When I tried to address them, Rees Broome demanded more money through a deluge of letters. These issues were created by vandals who were admitted agents of the HOA and created the issues in advance of my being cited and fined thousands of dollars for them. The same issues under new ownership on the same house were not considered to be covenant issues at all. The never were to begin with. Essentially the HOA perceived that I had substantial equity in my house and made a dash for my assets. nSince all of the qualified attorneys in the area I interviewed were in business with the CAI and/or Rees Broome, I was forced to retain out of state counselin Washington, DC, who pointed out to the HOA and Rees Broome that what they were doing was illegal and in violation of covenants. Rees Broome’s representatives (Courtney Harden and Kim O’Halloran) responded that since he was not licensed to practice in Virginia, they did not have to listen to his arguments, even though they were valid and consistent with the covenants, Virginia state law, and Rees Broome’s own literature explaining what is legal/acceptable or not. In turn, I had to retain second counsel a VA prosecutor to threaten litigation so they would engage us in good faith. Despite retaining Virginia counsel, Rees Broome then proceeded to violate the agreements these lawyers had established with them and grab five times the final amount discussed. According to covenants and the law, a homeowner cannot be cited without being brought before the Board of Directors for hearings -to address the citations. I was never presented this opportunity. In fact, when my attorney attempted to arrange for hearings, Rees Broome went ahead and filed a lien against my property before the hearings were even held. At the closing of the sale of my property, when I was first informed of the lien, Rees Broome lied to my settlement company about its legitimacy, forcing me to pay out. When I contacted the Board of Directors, I was told that they had no say whatsoever in the lien-that the matter was adjudicated entirely by Rees Broome and the CAI-sanctioned office manager, Stephanie Jackson. The Board was cirumvented altogether, in violation of the law and covenants. According to covenants, in order for a lien to have been valida suit must have been filed, and the HOA must have prevailed. This never happened. Instead, the HOA picked a number out of the air, assigned it to my property and claimed it at closing while falsely alleging that the matter had gone to court. The $15,000 I was billed incorporated the maximum amount of $3800 for four citations, including eggs thrown against my house by the HOA’s agents, soil erosion under the steps of my house created by the HOA’s agents, the fact that grass grew in bunches, and that my lawn was slightly impertfect. The lien incorpoated an addition $4000 for attorney feeseven though, according to the law, my attorney, and the Rees Broome’s own literature affirm, attorney fees cannot be claimed outside a court judgment nor did the covenants even authorize this. So, in addition to paying attorney fees for counsel Rees Broome and the HOA entirely ignored to address covenant violations they had entirely trumped up, they forced to to pay their attorney fees. Rees Broome then tacked on another $5800 for attorney fees for work not even performed. The firm simply wanted the money, and another $850 for quarterly dues that were already paid. The illegal amount of attorney fees demanded exceeded $10, 000, amounting to what appears to be felony theft. During negotiations, Harden even admittedly padded her bills by $3,000 before the $5800 appeared. After closing, I requested hearings to address the covenant violations as I am allowed to do as the HOA is require the request of past homeowners. Rees Broome refused, blocked emails, and just turned their backs. I also brought the improper billing and conduct to the attention of the founding principal of the firm Joel Birken responded with contempt and indifference and blocked my email also. By the way, Birken has presided over the American Bar Association’s Virginia State Bar disciplinary committee and therefore can have any/all ethics complaints against his associates dismissed. Isn’t that convenient! Many RB associates/attorneys have held leadership positions at the VSA. O’Halloran is now President of the local CAI, which kicks business to HOAs and is a networking group for attorneys working on HOA issues to maximize their bottom line-often through extorting large sums of money from homeowners and vendors. (This is happening in CAI-affiliated HOAs across the countryand certainly happened in other instances within the NFCA.) Harden is counsel to the Virginia Transportation Commissioner, a fellow who has built his reputation on combatting waste, fraud, and abusethe irony! The VTC also coordinates police activity on the roadsa dangerous mixture considering Rees Broome’s vindictive use of the police towards homeowners. While extorting ridiclously and unjustifiably large amounts of money from homeowners, RB will do everything in their power to financially ruin and terrorize their marks to prevent them from coming forward to challenge them or reclaim RB’s ill gotten loot. Who knows how that money is distributed. RB never provided me or my counsel with a detailed invoice and as far as I am concerned, some of that money may very well have been distributed to police offices who admittedly put tickets on my driving record within the HOA in order to get my license suspended and to run my insurance into the roof Other kickbacks may have gone to the office manager, the Board of Directors, and the vandals. In litigation, RB apparently refuses to engage counsel which is not licensed in Virginia, where they hold an extraordinary amount of political influence and reach within the legal communities, courts, and political offices. Instead the homeowner is forced to work within their network, which they control through intimidation, bullying, kick backs, and crony contracts. They won’t even deal with counsel not in their area, telling them, they can do whatever they want and violate whatever law they see fit since that attorney can’t sanction them in the courts or sue. In the area, they call all the shots. When you take them to court, you are forced to deal with their insurance company, Nationwide, which provides cover for their alleged illegal and unethical conduct. It is in Nationwide’s interests to prevent the homeowner from recovering his/her money, so that Rees Broome FCA/and CAI-affiliated attorneys, will throw more business in its direction on behalf of HOAs extortingmoney from homeowners. These contracts are probably worth millions of dollars, so absent any sense of ethics, it’s worth Nationwide’s while to go along with their scheme. The entire arrangemnt amounts to a criminal racket in which they grease each other’s palms, cover for each other’s misconduct, and enrich each other at the expense of homeowners. Even when their willful, lawlessness and unethical conduct is brought to the attention of authorities, or their management, they definantly maintain they are entirely right even though the law, their own literature, and the covenants say otherwise, and they dare anyone to challenge them. Do yourselves a favordo not purchase property in NFCAor any community represented by Rees Broome or the CAI. These people are making phenomenal amounts of money through extortion of homeowners within their communities. Ironically, O’Halloran claims on her professional biography to help the poor become homeowners when the reality is she renders homeowners poor by stealing their money and eventually drives them out of their homes to enrich herself and her cronies. Would you want to live in any community where this sort of conduct is deemed acceptable. Basic human decency, professional integrity, ethics, and concern for your assets would argue against it. Somehow these people delight in strip others of their humanity and finacial resources. They have no conscience, just a sense of entitlement, power lust, and greed. While they like to think of themselves as super lawyers, they bring disrepute and disgrace to their firm, community, and their profession and devastation to their communities. These people are absolutely corrupt to the coreand their firm, CAI, and NFCA should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Springfield, Virginia United States of America
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