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United States v. Heptner

United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
2016 WL 3344564 (2016)


Facts

Disbarred attorney James Heptner (defendant) worked as a legal advisor and in-counsel for entrepreneur Damien Freeman, who owns ITS Billing, Inc. Freeman agreed that ITS Billing would loan Heptner funds to buy a house, although Heptner claimed part of the funds represented profit-sharing distributions. ITS Billing provided a $15,000 down payment plus a cashier’s check for over $430,000 at closing for Heptner’s home purchase. Eventually, ITS Billing sued to compel Heptner to deliver a signed purchase-money note and mortgage. Heptner signed a note and mortgage in front of the judge, who signed them as well. Meanwhile, Heptner ran up a $250,000 back tax bill to the Internal Revenue Service (plaintiff) (IRS). The IRS filed suit to reduce Heptner’s tax debt to judgment and foreclose federal tax liens against his house. The IRS argued that its liens took priority over ITS Billing’s purchase-money mortgage because it was never recorded or otherwise perfected. ITS Billing countered that its purchase-money mortgage was valid without recording under Florida law and retained priority over the tax liens.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hernandez Covington, J.)

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