Contributed by muckracker1 (Editor) beforeitsnews.com
Tue May 25 2010 17:57
Latest in 83 year old Black farmer’s fight against illegal foreclosure:
Harry Young files $100 million lawsuit against DOJ and USDA based on loan officer’s testimony at Young’s trial
by Monica Davis
Harry Young is an 83 year old farmer in western Kentucky. He has been waging a five year legal fight to regain his land after the government foreclosured and auctioned the property in 2005. Young filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice and various federal officials May 24, 2010. He is seeking a jury trial.
Young, whose land was foreclosed and auctioned in what he contends was an illegal foreclosure, was arrested and tried on charges of allegedly making threats against the Farm Services Agency in Owensboro, Kentucky. He was the last black farmer operating in three western Kentucky counties when his land was sold at what supporters claim was an illegal auction based on fraud in 2005.
At the time, he was not allowed to present evidence of his payments. Young has denied the allegations, that he: made threats, and that he hadn’t made payments on his loan–as alleged by the Assistant US Attorney, who said, in a 2005 press release that “…for many years, Mr. Young had] lived in this house and farmed the land without making payments.”
Young’s land,which includes coal and oil deposits worth as much as $750,000,000 was sold at an auction which supporters say was based on fraudulent, perjured information by federal officials. After the auction,
Young filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and FSA in May in U.S. District Court in Louisville. In the suit, he asks for $25 million for “the embarrassment, humiliation, pain and suffering and personal indignities” caused by the USDA and FSA. He also asks for $5 million for loss of income from farm and related operations. (Local paper.)
That suit, and two others, were thrown out, based on information from the USDA, which did not include the receipt for the payments totaling over $100,000 in 1985/86. Young was tried on the threat charges in the Western District of Federal Court in Paducah, Kentucky. Supporters say the charges were retaliation for his refusal to stop legal action to regain his farm. His trial on the threat allegations resulted in a hung jury on . Rather than risk another trial, Young accepted a plea bargain deal, where he accepted a pre-trial diversion agreement, agreeing to “stay out of trouble for a year.”
Several issues arise: 1. the government did not acknowledge his loan payments; 2. his account was credited with a loan that another farmer received; and 3. he never received a jury trial in earlier proceedings.
According to a local newspaper covering the foreclosure in 2005:
…Young, who is black, says he is a victim of a racist organization. He points to a letter from Jeffery Hall, state FSA executive director, in December 2004 stating that “no voluntary payments on Mr. Young’s account (have) been received since 1980,” and Young “has remained on the property basically rent free.”
The letter contradicts financial statements that show disbursements of $121,800.26 and $9,394.59 from an escrow account to the Farmers Home Administration, the FSA’s former name, in 1985 and 1986, Young said. (Local paper)
Young also said he was charged interest for loans he never took out. “I don’t owe them nothing,” he said. “I’ve overpaid them if they mark interest off.” (Local paper)
Under oath, in contrast to what had been said earlier–that “anyone could have typed up” the receipt which Young said proved his case, the local FSA county supervisor acknowledged that the signature on the receipt for two loan payments was his. On that basis, Young filed a his latest lawsuit.
For the past 20 years, that this legal battle has been waged, Mr. Young has said that the government was lying about his failure to pay his loan, and had charged him for a loan which he never applied for–the proceeds of which reportedly went to a white farmer. Young has always maintained that he paid his loans–which has been corroborated by by court testimony of the county supervisor of the Farm Services Agency (FSA) and its parent agency, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which had earlier claimed that Young hadn’t made a payment on his loan in twenty years. In 2005, the US Attorney out of Louisville, Kentucky, in a press release, said, “For many years, Mr. Young has lived in this house and farmed the land without making payments.”
Justice Department attorneys refused to consider the receipt from the County Supervisor as evidence in 2005. And, when Young showed the receipt to a US Marshal during the auction of his property, the US Marshal reportedly said: “I can’t read.”