Irahetaj's Weblog

Linebarger is not above the law!

Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, L.L.P. violate military personnel’s rights

Posted by irahetaj on May 25,

March 26, 2010

A class-action lawsuit has been been filed in the Shelby County Chancery Court, Memphis, Tennessee “alleging that fees, penalties and other charges for delinquent tax collection “unjustly enriched” [Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Simpson] the city’s collection agent and violated state law.”

http://dailyme.com/story/2010032300000682/city-memphis-sued-fees-tardy-taxpayers-.html

March 25, 2010

It’s been nearly three years since my legal fight with Linebarger started.  So, here we are, three years later, hundreds of hours spent on legal research, pleadings, and motions.  Thousands of dollars spent on travel, court costs, printing, etc.  Why may you ask? Well, someone has to stand up to Linebarger.  A quick Google search of “Linbarger” combined with “fraud” and/or “abuse” yields nearly 1500 hits.  So, am I just the only one wronged by Linebarger’s actions?  I certainly believe that is not the case.  It will be interesting to see how this “one man” fight unfolds against Linebarger’s  army of lawyers, millions of dollars at their disposal, and countless of politicians on their side as a result of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

September 22, 2009

When a governmental entity is allowed to “become a lawbreaker, it [will] breed contempt for law, it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”, Olmstad v. United States, (1928) 277 U.S. 438.

It’s interesting to see how in most of the lawsuits in which Linebarger and Harris County have been involved, there’s a “boiler-plate” filing that is pretty common… Special Exceptions and Plea to the Jurisdiction claiming governmental immunity, or derived immunity in the case of Linebarger.

As you can see in the Court documents, under the hyperlink on the left side, Harris County and Linebarger, are once again claiming that they are immune.  I have filed my answers to Linebarger and Harris County’s Special Exceptions and Plea to the Jurisdiction.  We’ll have to wait and see how will the court rule… will it allow Linebarger and Harris County to act with impunity or will it give me the opportunity to hold them accountable.

March 25, 2009

One of Lincoln’s famous quotes “government of the people, by the people, for the people…” seems to lose ground as government entities and taxing authorities tailor laws and/or ordinances to accomodate Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.  An example of Linebarger’s influence in politics and local government is a city ordinance adopted by the city of New Orleans, which by the way was ruled unconstitutional by the Louisiana Supreme Court, that was “tailored to accommodate the 30 percent penalty structure of the Linebarger Firm, a Texas entity…”

http://www.cityofno.com/pg-1-66-press-releases.aspx?pressid=4899

Did your county/local government entity increase the penalty rate or passed a law/ordinance that was “tailored to accomodate [the] penalty structure” of Linebarger when it contracted its services?  It will be interesting to see how many other local laws/ordinances have been “adopted” to “accomodate….Linebarger”.  I would not be surprised if Harris County also accomodated Linebarger’s “penalty structure”.

Your thoughts?  Send me a message if you are aware of similar “penalty” increases when your local governments hired Linebarger.

March 24, 2009

Thank you all who have sent me feedback and identified links that are broken and do not display the intended information.  I have updated all the links and the intended information should be visible.  Please feel free to continue to provide feedback whenever a link does not work properly.

To clarify for all of you that have sent me a message asking about the class action lawsuits listed under “Linebarger in the News and in the Courts”.  I did not initiate any of those lawsuits, nor have I joined the current class action lawsuit in Harris County.  Some of you have indicated the interest in exploring a class action lawsuit in the federal court or the state court.  As I mentioned previously, I am currently deployed to the Middle East and do not have easy access to some of the documents being requested to be consolidated in exploring the class action options.

Once I return to the U.S., towards the end of summer, I’ll be able to search my documents and see what I can provide.

March 11, 2009

I’ve been receiving a lot messages/emails asking about the outcome of the ongoing case involving Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.  Here’s a quick update.

My case is still pending… due to my current deployment the Court stayed the judicial proceedings until the completion of my deployment.

On a note of interest, a class action lawsuit has been filed in Harris County by Houston’s lawfirm Johnson, Spalding, Doyle, West & Trent, L.L.P., against Linebarger alleging fraudulent actions related to their tax collection practices and the wrongful demand for “abstract or title search fees”.

Ronald Simon vs. Linebarger, Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, et al
Cause  No. 2008-48628, In the District Court of Harris County, 127th Judicial District

Civil Court Docket Inquiry

Activity Results
Court 127TH DISTRICT COURT Case Number 200848628
Style SIMON, RONALD VS LINEBARGER GOGGAN BLAIR & SAMPSON LLP
Case Type FRAUD Status READY DOCKET

Date Description
03/01/2010 TRIAL COORDINATORS DOCKET PRE TRIAL CONFERENCE (NO TCR)
03/15/2010 TRIAL SETTING TRIAL ON MERITS

February 20, 2009

Thank you to all of you who have sent me written comments, as requested I have only posted those comments that individuals have asked they be published.

One common theme you can see in the various incidents with Linebarger is that Linebarger has pretty much been able to act with impunity. It is evident that the millions of dollars Linebarger has contributed to various elected officials’ campaigns, and/or their PACs, give Linebarger the insulation from scrunity most collection agencies would have faced when their collection actions violate state and federal laws.

Perhaps a couple of other class action lawsuits filed against Linebarger will be the catalyst to cause a change in culture at Linebarger and also an embarrassment for those elected officials who continually shield Linebarger’s wrongful and illegal collection actions.

According to the TEXAS DISCIPLINARY RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT, “A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others”. Should you be subject to Linebarger’s abusive, harassing, wrongful, and illegal collection actions and practices, I ask that you share your story by sending it to me via the “Leave a comment” and suggest you also do the following:

1.  File a complaint against Linebarger with the State Bar of Texas at:

Client Assistance & Grievance

2.  Write the State Attorney General, for your particular state - ask that they look into Linebarger’s, or the government entity that contracted Linebarger, actions. You can find the name and address of each State Attorney General at the following website:

http://www.naag.org/attorneys_general.php

3. File a Rip Off Report at :

http://www.ripoffreport.com/

4.  Contact your State/US Congress Representative and ask for his/her assistance/inquiry.

5.  Contact your taxing authority(ies) – ask them for information on   when Linebarger’s current contract will expire. Get citizens involved and voice your opposition to renewing any Linebarger contract if safeguards are not implemented to prevent abuses, impropriety, and wrongful collection practices by Linebarger.

June 8, 2008

This is the letter that I presented in person to the Harris County Commissioners Court, on Tuesday morning, June 3, 2008, regarding Linebarger’s violations of military personnel’s rights and making suggestions on how to fix the problems. Unfortuntely, as was to be expected given Linebarger’s numerous campaing donations to various Harris County elected officials’ campaigns, Harris County’s Judge Emmett decided that issues affecting Harris County’s military population were not important enough and cut my presentation at the three minute mark, while it provided nearly 40 minutes of microphone time, regarding another topic, to an individual with whom he has previously worked.

June 3, 2008

Harris County Commissioners Court

1001 Preston, Suite 938

Houston, Texas 77002

Re:         Harris County’s Contract with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, L.L.P. and Linebarger’s Collection Practices Violate the Rights of Military Personnel

Honorable Members of the Commissioners Court:

More than 120 years ago, one of our nation’s tenets was articulated by the United States Supreme Court when it stated in 1882 that “…No man in this country is so high he is above the law.” That tenet would also include that no government entity, or government contractor, “is above the law”.

Our men and women in uniform fight to guard our country and our way of life. In doing so, they, and their families, are called upon to make endless sacrifices. To ease the burden and stress of military service, military personnel are afforded various rights, entitlements and protections under federal and state laws, particularly the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the Texas Property Tax Code.

In January 2004, Harris County contracted the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, L.L.P. (“Linebarger”) to “provide tax collection and enforcement services” and, per Section 1.8, the contract is to “end at 5:00 p.m. (Houston Time) on December 31, 2008.” During the 24 month period of May 2005 to May 2007, Linebarger’s collection practices resulted in the forced payment of penalty, interest, attorney fees, and culminated in a tax lawsuit on May 2007. Linebarger’s actions violated, on multiple occasions, the following (Enclosure A) federal and state laws (as they pertain to the collection of property taxes):

1.  Texas Property Tax Code Section 31.02;

2.  Texas Property Tax Code Section 33.43(a)(5);

3.  Texas Property Tax Code Section 33.43 (10)-(11); and

4.  Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Section 501(d).

Subsequent to a news story (See Enclosure B) on May 23, 2008, by Houston’s Channel 11 reporter Dave Fehling, Linebarger submitted a statement that “At the time we filed suit … against Captain Iraheta, not all systems were in place to recognize his military status or his eligibility for the military deferral…” The facts do not support the statement by Linebarger given that:

1. The Texas law referenced above was passed in 2003;

2. Linebarger’s contract has been in effect since January 14, 2004;

3. Linebarger states on page 2 of the contract that it is “a firm with substantial experience in the collection of delinquent ad valorem taxes…”;

4. Per Section 1.2(p)(3)-(4), there would have been a monthly Suit Checklist Report and Lawsuit Report that would have shown a tax suit against me was not allowed under state and federal law;

5. Per Section 1.3(e), when Harris County accepted Linebarger’s tax collection “System” in January 2004, a performance review by a third-party consultant would have verified that the “System” complied with “(i) the provisions of the Tax Code…”;

6.  Section 1.5 required Linebarger to employ “legal means necessary and appropriate for the collection of delinquent ad valorem taxes…” and “comply with all applicable state, federal, and local laws…”; and

7.  My military waiver and tax deferral had been approved by the Harris County Tax Office on May 2005 (See Enclosure C).

Given Linebarger’s numerous violations of federal and state law as it applies to military personnel and property taxes, I respectfully request that prior to Linebarger’s contract renewal, or a new contract is made with another collection entity:

1. An official inquiry is made by Harris County to ensure that Linebarger’s tax collection “System” is compliant with “…the provisions of the Tax Code”;

2. Harris County exercises the elements of Section 3.0, INDEMNITY, to recover the costs to Harris County and taxpayers for Linebarger’s collection actions in violation of the the Texas Property Tax Code and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act;

3. Require that in any notice subsequent to Section 1.5(g), Linebarger provide notice to property owners of rights and entitlements provided by Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02 and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d);

4. Require Linebarger to draw up written policies for its collection procedures to comply with the elements of Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02, §33.43(a)(5), § 33.43(10), and §33.43(11); the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d). Furthermore, for the policies and procedures for military exemptions and deferrals shall include elements similar those proposed in Enclosure D, Military Waivers and Deferrals;

5. Linebarger makes modifications and updates to the tax collection software and system (“System”) to make it compliant with Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02, §33.43(a)(5), § 33.43(10), and §33.43(11); the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d); and

6. Linebarger designates a person responsible for oversight and compliance of Texas Property Tax Code and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Linebarger’s position is that it can act with impunity in its collection practices “provided the conduct – however frivolous or wrongful – occurred in the discharge of his or her duties…” Our men and women in uniform make numerous sacrifices in their daily lives supporting and defending our nation’s freedom. Their rights, entitlements, and protection pursuant to Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02, §33.43(a)(5), § 33.43(10), and §33.43(11); and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d), should not be one of those sacrifices. Harris County should take all steps possible to ensure Linebarger’s collection practices comply with the law and military personnel’s rights, both federal and state, are respected.

I thank you in advance for your time, attention, and action in this important matter.

Respectfully yours,

Jose D. Iraheta

Captain, United States Air Force

Enclosures:

A. Excerpts, Applicable Law Regarding Property Taxes

B. Channel 11 News Story, May 24, 2008

C. Approval of Military Waiver and Tax Deferral

D. Proposed Procedures – Military Waivers and Deferrals

ENCLOSURE A

Excerpts, Applicable Law Regarding Property Taxes

Texas Property Tax CodeSection 31.02. Delinquency Date.

…(b) An eligible person serving on active duty in any branch of the United States armed forces during a war or national emergency declared in accordance with federal law may pay delinquent property taxes on property in which the person owns any interest without penalty or interest no later than the 60th day after the date on which the earliest of the following occurs:

(1) the person is discharged from active military service;

(2) the person returns to the state for more than 10 days;

(3) the person returns to non-active duty status in the reserves; or

(4) the war or national emergency ends…

(d) A person eligible under Subsection (b) or any co-owner of property that is owned by an eligible person may notify the county tax assessor or collector or central appraisal district for the county in which the property is located of the person’s eligibility for exemption under Subsection (b). The county tax assessor or collector or central appraisal district shall provide the forms necessary for those individuals giving notice under this subsection. If the notice is timely given, a taxing unit in the county may not bring suit for delinquent taxes for the tax year in which the notice is given. Failure to file a notice does not affect eligibility for the waiver of penalties and interest

…(f) This section applies only to property in which the person eligible for the exemption owned an interest on the date the person was transferred out of this state as described by Subsection (c) or in which the person acquired the interest by gift, devise, or inheritance after that date.

(g) For the purposes of this section, a person is considered to be on active military duty if the person is covered by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 (50 App. U.S.C. Section 501 et seq.) or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (38 U.S.C. Section 4301 et seq.), as amended.Section 33.43. Petition.

(a) A petition initiating a suit to collect a delinquent property tax is sufficient if it alleges that:…

(5) penalties, interest, and costs authorized by law in a stated amount for each separately assessed property are due;…

(10) all things required by law to be done have been done properly by the appropriate officials; and

(11) the attorney signing the petition is legally authorized to prosecute the suit on behalf of the taxing unit.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, (50 App. U.S.C. Section 501 et seq.)

TITLE V—TAXES AND PUBLIC LANDS

SEC. 501. TAXES RESPECTING PERSONAL PROPERTY, MONEY, CREDITS, AND REAL PROPERTY.

(a) APPLICATION.—This section applies in any case in which a tax or assessment, whether general or special (other than a tax on personal income), falls due and remains unpaid before or during a period of military service with respect to a servicemember’s…

…(d) INTEREST ON TAX OR ASSESSMENT.—Whenever a servicemember does not pay a tax or assessment on property described in subsection (a) when due, the amount of the tax or assessment due and unpaid shall bear interest until paid at the rate of 6 percent per year. An additional penalty or interest shall not be incurred by reason of nonpayment. A lien for such unpaid tax or assessment may include interest under this subsection.

(e) JOINT OWNERSHIP APPLICATION.—This section applies to all forms of property described in subsection (a) owned individually by a servicemember or jointly by a servicemember and a dependent or dependents.

ENCLOSURE D

Proposed Procedures – Military Waivers and Deferrals)
Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson

Military Waiver & Deferrals Procedures

1. Q&A Brochure

Linebarger prepares a brochure entitled “Military Personnel Property Tax Rights”. This brochure advises the military member of rights, entitlements, protections and qualification requirements under the Texas Property Tax Code and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This brochure is available at Linebarger’s office at all times and is enclosed with Linebarger’s first yearly delinquency mailing.

2. Account Status/Collection Activity

Linebarger’s account status field, and tax collection “System” computations, include the following:

a. Account status field include a code indicating if an account has an active duty military deferral;

b. account status field include a code indicating if an account has an active duty military exemption but no deferral;

c. the event that an active duty military taxpayer does not qualify rights and entitlements under any of the following: Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02, §33.43(a)(5), § 33.43(10), and §33.43(11); the System computes $0.00 in penalties, attorneys’ fees and collections’ costs, and assesses interests as permitted, and limited to the rates set, in the Servicemember Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d);

d. in the event that an active duty military taxpayer qualifies for qualify rights and entitlements under any of the following: Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02, §33.43(a)(5), § 33.43(10), and §33.43(11), and the Servicemember Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d); the System computes $0.00 in penalties, interests, attorneys’ fees and collections’ costs;

e. system able to accurately read and translate data from magnetic tapes, or other storage medium, and correctly code account status and make required computations compliant with Texas Property Tax Code § 31.02, §33.43(a)(5), § 33.43(10), and §33.43(11); the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 501(d);

Linebarger has MILITARY PROPERTY OWNER’S REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF DELINQUENT PENALTY AND INTEREST forms in its office and provides those to servicemembers upon request.

3. Litigation

Linbarger does not file tax suits on accounts which are coded as military waiver or military deferment without prior personal approval from the Tax Assessor-Collector. Should at anytime the attorney handling the case is aware that the taxpayer is a servicemember and that he has a military waiver or deferment, the attorney is to advise the servicemember of his/her rights pursuant to the Texas Property Tax Code and/or Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (as applicable). Unless explicitly authorized by a Court Order, state or federal law, Linebarger will immediately cease all litigation action and move expeditiously to dismiss the tax suit.

4. Foreclosure/Sale of Property

Linebarger does not foreclose on accounts coded for military waiver or military deferral without the prior written approval of the Commissioners Court.

May 25, 2008

Texas is home to tens of thousands of military families. The law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, L.L.P. handles the collection of property taxes for the majority of Texas’ taxing entities. It seems that Linebarger believes itself to be above the law when it comes to its collection practices. It’s even willing to violate state and federal law affording protection, entitlements, and deferments to military personnel and their families.

video: http://www.khou.com/video/index.html?nvid=248456

They claim they sued me because they did not have everything in place. Quite surprising for a “professional” firm whose collection contract with Harris County expires on December 2008 and the Texas law giving military personnel rights regarding property taxes was passed in 2003. I guess Linebarger was waiting for the contract to expire before having everything “in place”.

If you are in the military, contact your taxing authority or the appraisal district and request the military waiver and deferments you are entitled to under Texas Property Tax Code, Section 31.02 and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Regards,

Jose D. Iraheta

Captain, United States Air Force

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21 Responses to “Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, L.L.P. violate military personnel’s rights”

  1. Seth Beebe said

    This is good information to know. I am am Alaskan resident and I am retired military. While I was in the Army I was stationed at FT Carson Colorado. I received a letter from Linebarger threatning legal action against me if I did not pay a Colorado Tax Debt from the year 2000. I have always claimed Alaska as my State of Residence in fact I was in Korea for a good part of the year 2000. So in reality they are threatning to sue me, an Alaskan Resident that served in the Armed Forces, for not paying taxes for a State I am not even from! I have sent them records showing my State of Residency and all I receive is more threats. How can I put an end to this? Is the class action law suit only against their collection efforts in Texas or can veterans from the rest of the US join in!

  2. Robert E. (Bob) Grady, Jr. said

    I just read with extreme interest the May 24, 2008 news article concerning the deplorable treatment of Captain Jose Iraheta by Harris County, Texas tax officials and their contract collection law firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson (http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou080523_ac_militarytax.202f3ebc.html) . I found myself to be in an almost identical situation, as will be detailed below, but instead of a military veteran being the victim of a malicious and illegal lawsuit filed by the county and their contract law firm, in my case, it is an innocent retired senior citizen, who no longer even resides in the county, who is the victim. I was not, however, aware of Captain Iraheta’s case until I recently discovered it during my research for my case on the Internet. With these two recent and nearly identical cases, the question to be asked is whether these two cases are merely coincidences or are they just the tip of the iceberg? And, is it indeed true that political donations by the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson to numerous elected public officials have unethically influenced their decisions when it comes to the illegal activities of this law firm?

    To briefly summarize, I recently received a document, forwarded to me from my former Seattle, Washington address, in which I am named as a defendant, as an “apparent heir” to a deceased individual with the same last name as myself, in a delinquent tax lawsuit being claimed by various Harris County, Texas tax jurisdictions and the Pasadena (Texas) Independent School District and being filed by the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson. This document is unequivocally an illegal criminal scam involving identity theft and is clearly intended to criminally harass, intimidate, defraud, and extort money from me, apparently perpetrated by Harris County employees and contract employees. We (my wife and I) are retired senior citizens who live off of a very limited fixed retirement income. Imagine our absolutely shock, concern and distress when we read this document and imagined the potentially dire financial consequences that we could be suffering in the future as a result of it (not only being responsible for the payment, but also the damage that such could do to our credit rating). Because of our limited financial resources, we do not have the money to hire an attorney to handle this matter, nor do we have the resources to travel to Houston to become directly involved in our defense, nor do we have any legal background or prior experience in a situation such as this. The receipt of this document has understandably resulted in extreme stress on our lives. Nonetheless, we are fully committed to bringing those responsible in any part, directly or indirectly, for this crime to justice and to be equitably compensated as the victims of this malicious crime.

    To be absolutely clear about this, I have had no past or current relationship (family, acquaintance, business, property or otherwise) whatsoever to anyone referenced in this document (including Myrtle L. Grady or Carlos Z. Ibarra, and in fact, have never had any relatives residing in the state of Texas) nor have I ever received any prior communications regarding this subject matter (including any estate or inheritance documents) from anyone at any time. What possible evidence could the parties have to support their claim that I am an “apparent” heir to this estate? None, because none exist. Although I once lived and owned property in Houston and Harris County (but on the west side of the city and not in Pasadena) and like any responsible citizen paid all of my property taxes in full and on time, I have not set foot in the city or the county since I retired and moved away several years ago. To simply say that I was targeted because I have the same last name as the deceased would be an absolutely ridiculous assertion and would certainly be discriminatory in nature (what if the last name of the deceased was Smith). No, clearly I was targeted because I formerly owned property in Harris County, but no longer reside in the area and would be presumed to not challenge the filing (it is also suspicious that the document was not sent by any type of certified or registered mail requiring my signature). In fact, it appears that a lot of effort went into researching and stealing confidential information concerning my identity, in that I have moved several times since leaving the county.

    So how did this happen? How was I chosen by the parties to be a defendant in this lawsuit? It it patently absurd to assume that the parties simply assumed that I was somehow related to one of the prior owners of the subject property simply because we had the same last name (in order to prove this assertion, one would have to provide evidence that this is standard practice and that all delinquent taxes are handled in this identical manner by suing all Harris County property owners with the same last name as delinquent taxpayers). As I previously outlined above, the only explanation it that I was chosen as the result of a criminal activity, and the fact that I was targeted because I am a retired senior citizen who no longer resides in the County. And how was my former Seattle address obtained? Since I had moved several times since leaving Harris County, as previously indicated below, the only explanation is that my identity and confidential information was stolen and compromised, by an illegal and unauthorized access of my Credit Bureau files under false pretenses, again as the result of a criminal activity. Finally,with all of the various parties, government and legal, listed on the lawsuit, how could this unforgivable situation happen? Clearly, all parties involved were negligent in their responsibilities and duties for this to have occurred. In fact, the lack of response to the core issues outlined in my numerous correspondences with the various responsible county officials, may in itself be an indication of an illegal cover-up.

    To put it quite frankly, this filing is a crime, and represents a criminal attempt to harass and intimidate me and my wife and to defraud and extort money from us, as well as theft of my my identity and presumed confidential information; perpetrated by one, several or all of the parties referenced in this document, and possibly other third parties. And, what is particularly disturbing is that this criminal activity has apparently involved government employees and contract employees, since they are a party to this filing.

    Now I have sent numerous e-mail messages to numerous Harris County elected and appointed officials, departments and contract law firm (Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson) employees, as well as the Texas Attorney General’s office (per the attached e-mail distribution list listed at the end of this message), including multiple requests for documentation and evidence pertaining to this lawsuit. The only response that I have ever received was an alleged partial dismissal of the subject lawsuit, which in itself, is suspicious in nature in that the response was immediate and without any explanation. This response was quite frankly an insult to me. After all, this lawsuit should never have even been filed in the first place, and is the result of the illegal criminal theft of my identity and represents a criminal attempt to harass and intimidate me and to defraud and extort money from me. While the apparent dismissal of this lawsuit was certainly appropriate and past due, it by no means closes this matter as far as I am concerned. None of the concerns and issues that I have addressed in my correspondences were ever even addressed or answered, let alone resolved. Apparently, they do not consider this to be an important matter, nor do they believe that I will vigorously pursue this matter until it is fully resolved to my complete satisfaction. Again, no elected government official or their office even bothered to respond at all, supporting publicized claims that they are in the pockets of the subject law firm.

    My requests to them have been quite simple in order to resolve and close this matter, four conditions must be met:

    (1) Not only must the lawsuit be dismissed, but all records relating to it with my name attached, must be expunged. As an Internet expert, I know the power of searches. And, although I am not an attorney, I do know the difference between the lawsuit being dismissed versus it being expunged. A future search of my name or financial records may disclose the initial lawsuit and the searching party may not bother to continue the search any further and may omit the dismissal. Thus, unless all records of my name related to this lawsuit are immediately expunged and totally removed, my credit history will be permanently and irreversibly damaged.

    (2) Those individuals who have committed crimes related to this matter must be investigated, identified, prosecuted, and punished.

    (3) Those individuals and parties who were negligent in allowing this lawsuit to be brought against me must be investigated, identified, and appropriately punished.

    (4) I must receive a fair and equitable restitution and compensation for my (and my wife’s) severe emotional distress and related health issues and potential future damage to our finances and credit that is the direct and sole result of this matter. Due to the extremely serious nature of this matter, I initially proposed a settlement amount of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00), but as a result of their total lack of response, later revised my claim upward to one million dollars ($1,000,000.00).

    Please excuse me if I appear to be angry and stressed-out, because I am indeed angry and stressed-out. I am an innocent victim of this criminal activity involving harassment, intimidation, fraud, extortion, and identity theft, apparently by county employees or contract employees hired by the county. I have every right to be at my limits. Again, I will vigorously pursue this matter until my name and financial reputation are restored and all records of this illegal filing are expunged, those involved in criminal activities are brought to justice, those who’s negligence are responsible for this happening have been duly and appropriately punished, and until I receive just and equitable restitution and compensation for the extreme emotional distress that has been inflicted upon myself and my wife as a result of this matter. Again, we are simply retired senior citizens, who should be free to enjoy this time in our life and should not be burdened with thus unforgivable situation. No one, let alone government employees or contractors, has the right to treat innocent senior citizens in this manner. I have no political agenda; in fact, I am a lifetime conservative Republican. But no one, especially elected government officials, employees, contract employees or attorneys are above the law.

    Distribution list of prior e-mail messages:

    Greg Abbott, Attorney General, State of Texas
    John Owens, Assistant Attorney General, State of Texas
    Ken Magidson, District Attorney, Harris County, Texas
    Mike Stafford, County Attorney, Harris County, Texas
    John Barnhill, Assistant County Attorney, Harris Count, Texas
    The Honorable Ed Emmett, Judge, Harris County, Texas
    The Honorable Judge John Donovan, 61st Civil Court, Harris County, Texas
    Terri Kirby, Clerk, 61st Civil Court, Harris County, Texas
    Tripp Matthews, Assistant Clerk, 61st Civil Court, Harris County, Texas
    Paul Bettencourt, Tax Assessor-Collector, Harris County, Texas
    Anthony Sleem, Tax Office, Harris County, Texas
    Barbara J. Schott, Auditor, Harris County, Texas
    Kirk Lewis, Superintendent of Schools, Pasadena ISD, Texas
    John Piscacek, Associate Superintendent for Business and Finance, Pasadena ISD, Texas
    Pankaj R. Parmar, Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Dale Linebargar, Managing Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Maris Blair, Managing Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Demetris Sampson, Managing Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Ken Oden, Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Norman Nelson, Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Anthony Nims, Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Audrey Lewis, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP
    Dexter D. Joyner, Attorney at Law representing Pasadena ISD, Texas

    pankaj.parmar@publicans.com ; Anthony Nims ; teresa.kirby@hcdistrictclerk.com ; tax_office@hctx.net ; customerservice@hcdistrictclerk.com ; jpiscacek@pasadenaisd.org ; klewis@pasadenaisd.org ; paul_bettencourt@hctx.net ; norman.nelson@publicans.com ; tripp.matthews@hcdistrictclerk.com ; da@dao.co.harris.tx.us ; auditor@co.harris.tx.us ; mike_stafford@hctx.net ; ken.oden@publicans.com ; demetris.sampson@publicans.com ; maris.blair@publicans.com ; dale.linebarger@publicans.com ; joyneratty@comcast.net ; anthony.sleem@tax.hctx.net ; Auditor’s Internet Email (Auditors) ; Barnhill, John (County Attorney) ; ed_emmett@hctx.net ; Audrey.Lewis@publicans.com ; greg.abbott@oag.state.tx.us ; john.owens@oag.state.tx.us ; public.information@oag.state.tx.us

  3. name withheld said

    I live in New York City, and just received a letter stating that I owe $700 due to unpaid tickets in Galveston County. I have not lived in Galveston, TX in over 16 years. They say if I do not pay, a warrant will be issued for my arrest. The citation #’s listed for the charges give no date……? Is it possible that they could really carry through with their threats? I don’t remember getting these tickets, but even if I did, could they still charge me after 15 years? I have the feeling this is the beginning of a long nightmare.

  4. Former Employee of LGBS said

    For “Name Withheld”; unpaid tickets you have in Texas do not carry from state to state, although there are people who will say that in an effort to get you to pay; I had a supervisor who liked to say a warrant was being issued for parking citations, that “your name would be in the police systems nationwide.” A nationwide parking violator? Or she would collect on citations issued to a minor when we weren’t supposed to be talking to the minor, only his parents to inform them that they must bring him/her before the judge, that is their right, by the way. Anyway, when I would bring these things to our Operations Manager attention then the next thing you know my calls were being monitored or my attendance/punctuality would be called in to question. Very effective to make you shut up. Bottom line, we were to get the money, don’t get caught saying things you shouldn’t because you were on your own, but if you can get them to pay, make ‘em pay. Linebarger in Austin Texas has closed down for shady reasons; everyone is collecting unemployment and trying to figure out how to pay their bills. Ironic, isn’t it?
    By the way, as a former employee I am informed of the way they play, and I totally believe they line too many pockets to be shut down but it is nice to know that every now and again every dog has its day. Good luck to all of you in your suit.

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  7. Brian said

    Linebarger said I owed a debt to the military overpayment. They then did a $1075 tax offset, but then never applied it to the balance of the loan of $4600. They said its not considered a payment, because I did not pay it myself, they had to do a tax offset to get that amount. Then at another time they said it all went towards interest, even tho my interest rate was 3% which was only $11.67 a month time 3 months til the tax offset came thru, so only $35.01 should of went to interest. DFAS-IN updated there end of it, and dropped the balance to $3500..ish, but Linebarger refuses to do the same.

  8. randall mumper said

    My story is a bit differant. I am a retired law office investigator from Florida. I have appeared many times before the Florida Supreme Court on lawyer discipline and sanctions. Changed the way lawyers work in Florida on a couple of occations. I am retired and living in Waxahachie, Ellis County, Texas. I responded to a tax foreclosure sale in Waxahachie this past Tuesday. Linebarger had scheduled the sale of 20 acres of farm land. I won the bid for the property only to leave the courthouse and learn that it wasn’t 20 acres which I won the bid on, it was 15 and that frimn KNEW it. Since I refused to pay for the minus acreage I have received threatening phone calls from a secretary for Linebarger here in Waxahachie. I immediately telephoned the firms home office and spoke with a lady who described hereself as the managing partner. [Maris Blair, a former Arlington, Texas assistant city attorney]. She assured me that I would receive an apology from their Waxahachie office today, but the call never made it. I have a differant spcies of fraud here that I most certainly will advance through the court system AFTER I make demand upon the firms malpractice carrier as well as Ellis County, ISD. They hired this firm and knew or shold have known about the fraud in the foreclosure sale.

    Randall Mumper

  9. christina said

    I am having a similiar issue with Linebarger. I have a military overpayment from 2008 for 1900. It was getting paid on thru my drill pay but when i got out in 2009 it was 700 but i am living paycheck to paycheck so it got forwarded to collection. I file tax return for 2009 and had offset for 807.27. So am ok cool debt paid off. not linebarger tells me that the amount taken from offset is different from debt due. us financial mgmt and us treasurey says that debt is clear with them. so i am like totally confused because linebarger tells me that debt will offset in tax next year if not paid.

  10. Anonymous said

    My situation is different from a lot of those that I just read. I’m just trying to find some answers. I received a letter from LGBS Dec. ’09 on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s behalf stating that I owe them money. The only thing is, I haven’t received any notices or anything stating that I owe money from the Dept. of Treasury themselves. I’ve contacted them and talked to a guy. He said that the Treasury mailed me notices a couple years ago. I told him that I haven’t received anything in the past from the Treasury stating that I owe money. He claimed that they sent several notices and I failed to respond. How am I going to respond to notices I haven’t received? I tried to ask him what address they sent the notices to and he wouldn’t tell me. He actually tried to get me to tell him what addresses have I lived at in the past so he could confirm it. I’m no fool, I wasn’t going to tell him unless he told me what address those notices were “supposedly” sent to. He also made a comment, “Well, the Treasury isn’t going to look for you.” So I asked him, “How did you guys find me?” He didn’t have an answer for that either. I also stated to him, “It’s the Department of Treasury for crying out loud, they would know my address after filing my taxes every year.” I also learned that from the time they supposedly sent those notices, they added interest to it since and it added up so a few grand has been added to it because of the interest. I was also unemployed when I talked to him and I still am til this day. I told him that and he still didn’t care. I didn’t expect him to anyways.

    I asked him what the debt was for and I learned that it WAS my debt after all. I had served in the military, but I had been court-martialed about 8 years ago and they forfeited my pay and they also want the bonus back that they gave me for reenlisting since I didn’t complete my whole term even though it was past my term when I finally cleared and outprocessed. I told him, “Fine, but I still had a right to receive a first notice from the Treasury.” I wanted to work something out with them about waiving the interest and he said, “Do you have the money to pay it all up front?” I said, “No, but I had a job a couple years ago. If I had received a notice then, I would’ve worked something out with the Treasury and paid them in payments.” So I decided to dispute it from there. I’m not denying my debt at all, but it’s only fair that I had received a first notice from the Treasury a couple years ago. At the end of the conversation, I realized that he didn’t care and that he just wanted me to pay up.

    After a lot of researching, I read up on my rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Section 809(b): Valitdating Debts, which states:
    (b)If the consumer notifies the debt colletor in writing within the 30 day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion therof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgement, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment., or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.

    So I wrote them an Initial Debt Collection Dispute Letter stating my rights and requested certain information. The same guy called me once they received the letter and asked what I wanted to do. I said that all I want to do is waive the interest. He kept asking me what the reason for it was. I kept saying that it was only fair since I didn’t receive notices from the Treasury and he said, “That’s not a good enough excuse.” He needed a really good reason so he could contact the Treasury and tell them that. I made a foolish comment saying, “So the government can put America in debt by sending money to Haiti and other countries helping them out when they need it, but they can’t help an American citizen by waiving the interest?” He said that he understood that, but that’s not what they’re gonna wanna hear. But he’s last words were, “Well, I’ll go talk to them and see what I can do.”

    Since that last conversation, I’ve been waiting for him or anybody else from LGBS to contact me with the results of the waiving of the interest. I learned that if I send just one payment, it can’t set me up for failure and change a lot of things so I didn’t bother sending a payment at all until I heard from him again regarding the interest.

    Just last week, I finally received a letter from them thinking it would be a letter regarding my request to waive the interest, but instead it was a NOTICE OF INTENT TO INITIATE ADMINISTRATIVE WAGE GARNISHMENT PROCEEDINGS. It stated that they will continue to try to collect the debt I owe and if I don’t pay the debt or take other action, they will be authorized to issue a wage garnishment order to collect the debt. Now correct me if I’m wrong. First of all, I’ve been taking action since the first letter I received from them and second of all, in my Dispute Letter, it stated (see 3rd paragraph above) that if the debt is disputed, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt. I finally called an attorney and discussed with him about the case and he said that if it’s not a consumer debt, then they don’t have to abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. So now, I’m still looking for answers to my 2 fundamental questions:
    1. Can they do that?
    2. Is that debt I explained above considered a consumer debt?

  11. KLABICKHAM said

    Apparently Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP are at it again in Texas. Now it appears as though they are making up bogus toll road voiolations and billing hundreds of dollars for an offense that never occured. For the umpteenth time I have received some kind of notice of a toll road hearing/order where I’m being accused of running the toll booth and not paying. Problem is, the vehicle in question has been out of commission since May of 2010. This is not the first time I’ve received such a notice. The acutal “court order” shows an old address that I haven’t lived at in over a year and a half, but the address on the front of the envelope is my correct address. I never received a notice to go to court in the first place, but there’s no way possible anyone could have driven that vehicle since May of 2010. I have definitely had enough and will be filing a complaint with anybody/everybody who will listen. I refuse to be a victim and pay this money!

  12. KLABICKHAM,
    The exact same thing happened to my wife a few years ago. I’m a lawyer and raised hell with them. About six months after visiting Houston, she recieves a “past due” notice for them over the tollroad. Our tolltag showed that the $2.00 toll had been paid. But then they said she owed them over $100 in attorney’s fees and costs — for a debt that never existed. I can’t believe they are still sending out those bogus tickets and fees. They need to be sued into the Stone Age.

  13. D Yingling said

    I live in Indiana and received a call from a gentleman who said his name is Frank Stephenelli, an attorney with LGBS. He told me that they had been hired by the Oklahoma State Tax Commission to collect unpaid State Taxes from me ad my ex-husband from 1983,184,1986 & 1987. He told me that we owe $2,753.62. I told him he was out of his mind! He said that there is no statute of limitations on collecting OK state taxes. I asked for details and this is when it really got interesting. He said that we owed $28.35 for 1983, $49 for 1984, $17 for 1986 and $343.00 for 1987, totaling $437.35. The other $2,300+ was interest, penalties and fees! I asked him why this was the first we had heard of this and he said they couldnt find us. My Ex and I moved back home to Indiana in 1988. By the eay, in 1983, we were 19 years old. Wed didnt even have a checking account! I have no way of proving that we paid these taxes! I told him that both of us have been paying Federal Taxes and Indiana State Taxes for the past 25 years with the same social security numbers we had in 1983 and that there were no tax liens against us, no previous collection activity, nothing on our credit records. In fact, I’ve received Tax reefunds every single year and never has the IRS or the OK State Tax Commission attempted to collect past due OK state taxes from mine or my husbands refunds. He finally said that if we paid $558 to get things started, that they would then send me a waiver application to see if I can get the interest, fees and penalties waived. He said he couldnt make any guarantees and I;d have to fill out the form and give them specific reasons. Then, it might take up to six months for them to make a determination, and in the interim, they may ask me for additional money. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE! My Ex-husband and I both are writing dispute letters, but I can tell from the previous postings that this will not stop them from harrassing us. Their letter comes from a PO Box in Oklahoma. I live in Indiana. Has anyone else in either of these states experienced a similar problem? I am going to call the Oklahoma State Tax Commission, but I fully anticipate that this will be a long drawn out process, and that this is exactly whay LGBS are counting on….that people will be so scared, or not take the time to investigate, and just pay the “settlement amount”. How many people are they trying to get $500 — $ 2,000 out of? Intersting that the letter has my old married name on it as the Tax Payer, but my ex-husband’s SSN. (Actually, only the last 4 digits of it). My gut instinct was that this was shady. That this is a law firm that buys up old debt, or cooks up schemes in order to milk money out of hard working poeple like my ex-husband and myself. They are counting on you not fighting (just like health insurance companies!). Last observation — I find the timing on this interesting….right at the time when people would be receiving Tax Refunds…hmmmm. Anybody else have a similar story?

  14. jen said

    Our story isn’t military related, but still linbarger related. My bf got a speeding ticket a few months ago…6 tickets in one. Even though he tried to dispute the ticket for being outrageous and perhaps coincidentally at the end of the month, he ended up getting lawyer and taking care of all 6 tickets. He has papers that says what happened with each case and how it was settled. We just got the second letter from Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson saying that he has 3 of the 6 tickets outstanding, one failure to appear and the others worded exactly as on his ticket. The first letter we received said the same thing except mentioned 4 offenses instead of 3. They do have his DL# and a “case #. It says there’s a warrant for his arrest that may be served at any time, any place until he pays the amount which is well over $1000, or enter a plea to an offense thats already been settled. He’s going to contact the lawyer that took care of the tickets originally and see what he says, but we’re sure its another one of their scams we’ve been reading about and don’t know what we can do about it. It seems useless. :/

  15. don won said

    who in f nnn state of ok hired this firm dont we have enough firms in state to take care of our problems let me know who hired these idiots

  16. old-time lawyer said

    D Yingling,
    Contact a tax attorney in Oklahoma to learn what the statute of limitations is, on the collection of state income taxes owed. There will be a general statute of limitations that is applicable, if there is not one specific to tax claims. The self-serving “advice” that you got from the LGBS attorney, that “there is no statute of limitations on collection of OK taxes” is pure BS. An expired statute of limitations (usually from two to six years from the date of the claimed debt) is a perfect and complete defense against a collection action. Remember, the statute of limitations continues running (and running out) until a formal legal action is filed in court.

    Of course, LGBS would never tell you that their claimed “debt” is already uncollectible….

  17. Michele Hondros said

    To the Former Employee of LGBS: Seems such tactics run rampant in the “legal” world. Indeed they find themselves–They think–Above The LAW.
    That’s gotta change, but when and where is the lawyer who is not afraid to take on jerks like this law firm as well as so many others? I’ll bet your PC has been hacked, home phones ‘monitored’–Everything. Hang in there, seriously. And, please keep speaking out.

  18. tax relief said

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  19. Lilian said

    Good blog post. I definitely love this website.
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  20. Jose said

    Hello. I received a letter today from Linebarger stating that I owe 1,432.60 to Mclennan County in Texas where I was arrested on a DWI charge on 03/14/2005. I was placed on 1 year probation and I paid all the fines and court costs associated with this case. I also received a letter from the courts, (which I still have in my possession) which states that “It appearing to the court that said Defendant has paid all costs and so much of the fine assessed against him as required by the Court, and otherwise fully complied with the terms of his probation”, there’s more but it says I have paid all fines so why am I now getting this? Furthermore, it instructs me to make the check payable to the county. Am I missing something here? Is this legitimate? Can they come after me after I have almost 8 years later even after the Court sent me a letter saying that I have paid ALL fines associated with my case? Please advise. Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely,
    Jose G.

  21. Bri said

    I have received 2 phone calls within the last 2 months from a “representative” of LGBS stating that I owe over $700 in toll fees. They address she gave me was from 3 years ago, but the license plate number is one that was never mine. I was never a resident or registered driver in the state of Arizona- where the plate is supposedly registered. At the end of the first phone call, I asked that they please send me copies of the toll bills (which I received on a monthly basis from the state of Colorado for our currently registered vehicles). I verified my current address and waited. Nothing. I received the second phone call tonight. After explaining what I was waiting for, the lady on the other line told me “the last person gave you wrong information. You need to submit this request in writing.” She gave me the address, and that’s when I googled and found this thread. Has anyone else received call recently regarding bogus toll charges? I will be calling E-470 tomorrow morning for clarification.

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