Hingham officials have decided to take disputed affordable homeowner Wanpen Florentine to court in an effort to put her affordable home back on the market.
A complaint was filed through Plymouth County Superior Court on Aug. 30, asking the court to resolve outstanding issues with the condo - including violations of the deed and outstanding mortgages on the property - and to give the property to the town.
The town has also requested any rent Florentine received from other people living in the condo as well as attorney fees and damages.
“We filed litigation to bring this unnecessary situation to a conclusion--if we can do it through cooperation, then all the better," said Hingham Town Administrator Ted Alexiades in a release.
Florentine has maintained her innocence in her ownership of the condo, and said the lawsuit will only continue to ruin her financially.
“I want to sell that property,” Florentine said. “I need the money, and they now trying to causing me trouble and trying to collect legal fees. They have made me bankrupt,” she said.
Florentine has been under the town’s microscope since allegations surfaced in 2012 that the affordable homeowner possessed several identities and was known under various aliases.
After several fraud and identity charges and a lengthy house arrest, Florentine was cleared of many charges by a judge in February. Florentine pled guilty to applying for a false license and pled guilty to one of eight counts of mortgage fraud and has been on probation. The other seven charges, all involving mortgage fraud, were dismissed.
Florentine’s attorney said the multiple names were the result of several marriages.
Officials have still been eager to get Florentine out of an affordable housing condo at Ridgewood Crossing, one they alleged in the complaint that Florentine “did not meet the requirements for the purchase…and only through misrepresentations and or omissions…was she able to obtain 23 Ridgewood Crossing,” the complaint says.
The house was purchased at a below-market rate for buyers in certain income brackets, but according to deed records, one of Florentine’s names is attached to a $1.9 million house on Crooked Meadow Lane in Hingham.
Florentine has denied any wrongdoing in purchasing the affordable home, saying that since her divorce, she is only a trustee of the Crooked Meadow building and acts as a janitor on behalf of her children.
Regardless, Florentine offered to sell her Ridgewood Crossing condo to the town in early 2013. The sale ultimately fell through in June due to problems with the mortgages on the house, written to Florentine under a different name.
The building also had several building code violations, including some changes that town officials allege point to the house being used as a rental property.
Florentine continued to deny that she ever rented out the home, only saying that a man was living with her in the home and helped to pay utilities.
The other violations, including her transferring the property to a trust, receiving three mortgages on the property, and changing several aspects of the house all without town permission, she said she didn’t realize were violations.
Though Florentine signed a deed rider that prohibits all of those actions, Florentine said she didn’t closely read it.
“I wish I could turn back the clock, and I wish I had been aware of what I was doing. Clearly if I had known what I had done would come back and haunt me and till me and destroy me, I don’t think I would have one that, but I can't change it,” Florentine said.
Florentine there is still hope to resolve the conflict outside of court, and has asked Hingham officials to help her get back her Thailand passport from police.
The passport, confiscated as a result of the identity investigation, would help Florentine sign off on a mortgage she gave herself under her Thailand name. That action would subsequently help clear the deed for sale.
“How can they do this to me? If I had been, in not my Asian color, in my yellow skin, I think I would be treated differently,” Florentine said.
Town officials said they were "extremely disappointed" that Florentine would make an allegation based on race, and said their legal action was based solely on the facts of the case.
"We pursued [legal] activity because an affordable property is in the hands of someone who looks to us to have significantly more income than is acceptable in those types of programs," Alexiades said. "There were numerous zoning violations and other issues, the property was being rented out. We provide affordable housing for people to live in, not rent out as an investment, and we’re perusing our remedies in court."