Legion Leaves Senior On The Street
January 11, 2005
I am writing with regard to the Legion of Christ, Inc., a Catholic non-profit congregation located in Cheshire, Connecticut. The purpose of my letter is to make you aware of some of the details of the fraudulent and unlawful practices utilized by the Legion of Christ in soliciting donations from me and to request any assistance you may be able to provide.
As I have detailed more fully below, the Legion of Christ exerted undue influence over me through never-ending and persistent solicitation of donations, culminating in the transfer of my home located at 226 Highview Drive in Stratford, Connecticut to them in November of 2003. In addition, the Legion of Christ’s representatives made several false representations to me that I relied on prior to executing the quitclaim deed. Finally, I truly believe that the practices and schemes described herein are commonly engaged in by the Legion of Christ and are not limited to only my experience. The background and details of this unlawful practice are as follows:
Approximately six to seven years ago, I was introduced to the Legion of Christ by a friend. At this time, I began contributing $10 per month to the Legion of Christ as a donation. In addition to this charity, I paid $10 per month to approximately 30 other charities and worthy causes. Several years ago, after I won third prize in a Legion of Christ raffle and a $500 prize, I began contributing $30 per month instead of $10 per month to the Legion of Christ.
In 2002, I was contacted by a fundraiser with the Legion of Christ. Subsequently, I was visited by two seminarians who told me that one of them was going to be ordained sometime that year and the other the following year. Each of these would be done in Rome by the Pope they claimed. The seminarians next discussed whether I would contribute money to the Legion of Christ. I told them that I wanted to contribute to the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN)instead of the Legion. The seminarians responded that the Legion needed priests, and a scholarship for a future priest would benefit them. I then agreed that I would contribute $2,500 per year for four years (total $10,000)towards a scholarship for a priest.
After making two other donations totaling another $15,000 (which I believe I was pressured into), I met with several members of the Legion of Christ. They asked me whether I would transfer my house to the Legion of Christ to support priests. I tentatively agreed, and they prepared several options through which I could transfer my home or the proceeds there from to them. Subsequently, I quitclaimed my home to the Legion of Christ and retained only a life estate and the payments on a $100,000 Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)secured by the property.
In 2003, I had been recently widowed and was 78 years old. I was living on a fixed income of just over $1,600 per month, and my only significant asset was the equity in my home, which I had owned since 1968. Prior to my transferring the home, the Legion of Christ discouraged me from speaking with friends or family regarding the property transfer. This was an apparent attempt to isolate me from the people who could have discussed my decision to transfer the home and its impact on my finances. Indeed, during a lunch with several representatives from the Legion of Christ attended by me and my son just prior to the transaction, the transfer of my home was not discussed until my son had left the affair. Furthermore, at the instruction of the Legion of Christ, I was not represented by my own attorney located in Stratford, but was represented by counsel hand-picked by the Legion of Christ from East Haven.
Throughout the transaction, I felt extremely pressured by representatives from the Legion of Christ to transfer my home to them. I never felt that the option to not transfer my home (or the proceeds from its sale)to the Legion of Christ existed. The Legion of Christ was made aware of my fragile financial position throughout the transfer process, yet chose to proceed despite this knowledge. It is clear that several false representations were made by the Legion of Christ, including: (1)a promise that I would not be responsible for the payment of property taxes associated with the property after the transfer; (2)a promise that I would not experience any financial hardship as a result of the transfer of my only significant asset to the Legion of Christ; and (3)a promise that, by virtue of the transfer, I would be eligible for Medicaid benefits if I required any medical assistance whatsoever.
In actuality, my property taxes increased by almost $2,000 per year as a result of the property transfer to the Legion of Christ. The payments on my HELOC on the property ($20,000 of which was donated to the Legion of Christ and $5,000 of which was donated to another member of the Regnum Christi movement)remain due. The amounts of these payments are steadily increasing as the interest rate associated with the loan rises. Because of this transfer, I no longer have the ability to draw funds from the equity in my home (1)to pay the amount due under the HELOC, (2)to pay the amount due for the property tax increase, (3)to pay for uncovered health-related services, or (4)to pay for any other unforeseen expenses.
Additionally, my living expenses are rapidly increasing, and are beginning to exceed the fixed-income I rely on. To summarize, as a direct result of the Property transfer, I will, in the very near future, no longer have the means to support myself. The Legion of Christ pressured a man in a stable financial position and forced him into an extremely compromised financial position.
I respectfully request that you consider the information contained herein. It is patently unjust and wrong that organizations such as the Legion of Christ are able to use their religious affiliation to take advantage of citizens like me while facing no repercussions whatsoever. On two different occasions, I have asked the Legion of Christ to return my home to me. Both of these requests, however, have been summarily denied. I have also written to all of the Catholic bishops in the United States to determine whether they can be of any assistance to me.
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