Guilty Pleas for TJ Waconia’s Balko and Helgason

by Alex Stenback on April 22, 2008

This hit the streets last Thursday, but since we’ve been following the trajectory of this now confirmed criminal outift pretty closely:

From approximately 2005 to 2007, Helgason and Balko executed a scheme to defraud and to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses.

Using the TJ Group, Helgason and Balko purchased approximately 162 properties throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area, principally in north Minneapolis. 

They would then resell the property within a few weeks to an “investor” who would purchase the property, sight unseen, at a price set by Helgason and Balko without negotiation, oftentimes $20,000 to $60,000 more than that the TJ Group had paid.

According to the plea agreements, people were told by Helgason and Balko that the investors were simply “lending” his or her credit to TJ Waconia.

Then there’s this bizarre bit of drama about Minneapolis somehow "taking control" of these TJ Waconia induced foreclosures:

A judge Wednesday appointed a receiver to manage 141 Minneapolis rental homes associated with a firm accused of mortgage fraud.

The city hopes to gain ownership, fix the homes and work with neighborhoods on whether they should be resold or rented, according to Tom Streitz, its housing director.

We’ve gotten a few emails on this, and there are more than a few folks assuming this means that the city now owns all of these properties, or soon will. 

Though the article is cheap on the details, all we can take from this is that a judge has assigned an attorney as receiver for the properties.  Exactly the scope of the powers this receiver will have – let’s not forget that someone else (a borrower, bank, lender, or somewhere in between) actually still owns these properties and any action by a judge does not change that – is still unclear.

Our best speculation, based on a law degree we don’t have, is that due to the nature and number of foreclosures involved in this case, that the Judge wants someone to take ownwership of, coordinate, and administer tasks that the absentee owners cannot or will not do (check on general condition, report hazards, etc. etc. etc.)

But putting properties into receivorship is a long way from Minneapolis "owning" any of these properties.

Paging Sam Glover, or any other attorney willing to expand on the meaning and import of this?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Glover April 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm

I think this may be a case of a journalist unwittingly describing what happened with a legal word that means something different.

I am far from an expert in property law, but my guess is that you are right, and the city does not own the properties, but will care for them until it figures out what to do for them. Maybe some of the owners will even decide they want to hold onto their properties.

Todd October 8, 2008 at 12:09 pm

This is crazy as me or someone else would buy these and get them going. The city of Mpls should not be involved to this extent.

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