Man wins $2.7-million mortgage-fraud verdict against real-estate brokers he says promised to help him stay in his house, from which he was evicted.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury has concluded that two Stoughton real-estate brokers took advantage of an uneducated contractor with mortgage problems to force him out of his home on Greenbrier Street in Dorchester and turn a tidy profit on the property.

In a verdict reached last month, the jury awarded Christopher St. Louis, formerly of 27 Greenbrier St., $1.5 million in damages and $1.2 million in interest in the case - which St. Louis first brought in 2017, two years after St. Louis first signed over the house to brokers Mitra Ghobadi and Richard Fitzgerald of Stoughton in a "short sale." The jury rejected St. Louis's charge of conspiracy against a third broker from Jamaica Plain.

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly first reported on the case.

St. Louis, who left school in sixth grade, charged that Ghobadi told him that in exchange for selling her the three-family house, for $122,000, far less than it was assessed, she would take care of his back mortgage payments and he could stay in the house for free, doing home repairs for them until he got back on his feet, at which point she would re-sell him the house.

The three-family house had been in his ex-wife's family for 35 years, and she still lived in one of the units, while St. Louis lived with a roommate in another and his ex's brother lived in the third. St. Louis said that as part of the deal - made orally, with nothing on paper - Ghobadi agreed the ex-wife, daughter and brother could stay in their units for rent of $1,000 a month.

Instead, St. Louis said, just three months after he sold the house to Fitzgerald's firm, at a steep discount - not Ghobadi's separate firm - Fitzgerald sold the house to a Dorchester real-estate firm - then managed by Fitzgerald's daughter-in-law - for $310,374.22. The deed filed with that sale was actually notarized just ten days after St. Louis signed over the house. That firm then sold the house to a couple for $650,000 in 2017 - after, St. Louis's suit charged, Ghobadi worked as a listing agent for the property.

Through the process, St. Louis charged, somebody repeatedly forged his signature on documents he never saw as part of the paperwork for the deals. Also, because he sold the house for far less than its assessed value, St. Louis suddenly owed the IRS up to $120,000 in taxes. The IRS sum was initially recorded against the house, but somebody, St Louis said, forged his name on a request to the IRS to make him responsible for paying it.

Not long after taking over the house, the Dorchester firm - which St. Louis had originally sued as well, but which a judge dropped from the case before trial - ordered him and his family members out of the house and carelessly moved his stuff to a Newmarket Square self-storage place, breaking many items, including some of his nearly three decades worth of contractor tools.

In a pre-trial filing, his lawyer summed up his case for damages, including $680,000 for the loss of the house and $280,000 for work he says he lost - including the value of repairs he made on the Greenbrier Street property before he was kicked out:

"Plaintiff was the victim of a foreclosure rescue scam in which Defendant Mitra Ghobadi and a team of her agents including the co-Defendants successfully conspire to buy the Plaintiff's family home for hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value and resell it for a five hundred percent profit. The Defendant Mitra Ghobadi had an agreement with the Plaintiff that she would purchase his home and re-sell it to him once he completed various repairs. Further, the agreement required that the Plaintiff be allowed to remain in the home. The Defendant did not have any intentions in re-selling the home to the Plaintiff, as she immediately sold the home to Five Realty LLC, which was owned by her husband, Defendant Richard Fitzgerald. Further, the Defendant Mitra Ghobadi forced the Plaintiff to leave the home, discarded all of his personal items including the tools he utilizes to make a living, and never compensated him for the improvements he made.

"The Defendants have profited financially while the plaintiff and his family have lost their home and the tools required for the Plaintiff to make a living and continue on with his life."

In their own pre-trial statement, however, Ghobadi and Fitzgerald said the case was completely frivolous:

"The plaintiff had not made mortgage payments on the property in ten years. It was just a matter of time before the bank foreclosed on the property. The plaintiff took steps on two prior occasions to transfer the home by way of a short sale. He withdrew and changed his mind on both prior occasions. The third time (March 2015) he completed the transfer of ownership and was provided with $10,000 as moving expenses. During the plaintiff's ownership the property was in disrepair. There were times when there were no utilities, heat or water service at the home. The bank holding the mortgage appraised the home for nearly $150,000.00 prior to the short sale. Based on that appraisal, the bank consented to the short sale price in March 2015. The plaintiff refused entry to people hired to make repairs to the property and the insurance was going to be cancelled for a failure to repair safety items designated during their inspection. The Defendant opted to sell the home in June of 2015 ...

"The plaintiff claims a lost of $680,000 for the value of the home while the bank appraiser assessed the property at a far less value of nearly $150,000.

"The plaintiff claims he suffered a loss of income of $280,000 but in the prior ten years he never paid the mortgage and has not produced any tax records to support his alleged loss of income or how it is connected to the defendants.

"The plaintiff claims storage costs and loss of personal items. None of the defendants owned the property at the time the plaintiff is contending that he suffered a loss of personal items and had to incur storage fees."

The jury disagreed, setting the damages before interest at $1 million for Ghobadi and $500,000 for her husband.

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