FAMILY TRUST SERVICES, LLC, ET AL.
REO HOLDINGS, LLC, ET AL.
Session September 5, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 15-780-BC
Ellen H. Lyle, Chancellor
appeal of a conviction for criminal contempt arises out of a
civil suit brought by business owners against the owners and
employees of a competing business for fraud in the use of the
tax-sale and redemption process for real property. The trial
court issued a temporary injunction, prohibiting defendants
from, inter alia, recording deeds in real estate
transactions without an authentic notary seal on the
documents and requiring defendants to notify the court and
opposing counsel of any documents they intended to record in
the Register's Office. Appellant, the owner of the
business which was the subject of the injunction,
subsequently formed a trust in which Appellant retained the
right to direct the distribution of income and principal and
to amend, revoke, or terminate the trust. The trustee of the
trust was conveyed real property in trust and recorded the
deed without the notice required by the injunction. The
property was subsequently sold, and, at Appellant's
instruction, a portion of the proceeds of sale used to pay
Appellant's legal fees for a related proceeding; the
trial court held that, in so doing, the Appellant willfully
and for a bad purpose violated the injunction, and held him
in contempt. On appeal, Appellant argues that the evidence is
insufficient to support the conviction. We have reviewed the
record and conclude that there is evidence to support the
contempt conviction beyond a reasonable doubt and accordingly
affirm the judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
William T. Ramsey, Thomas H. Dundon, and J. Isaac Sanders,
Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Edward
N. Bulso and Paul J. Krog, Nashville, Tennessee, for the
appellees, Family Trust Services, LLC, Steven D. Reigle,
Regal Homes, Co., Billy G. Gregory, John R. Sherrod, III.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Alexander
S. Rieger, Deputy Attorney General, for the Office of the
Attorney General and Reporter.
Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Frank G. Clement, Jr.,
P.J., M.S., joined.
RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE
Factual and Procedural History
appeal arises out of a suit filed by Family Trust Services,
LLC, and Billy Gregory, who are in the business of buying
and/or redeeming real property sold at delinquent tax sales.
The Plaintiffs filed suit against a competitor, REO Holdings,
LLC, its owners Charles Walker and Jon Paul Johnson, and its
employees Julie Coone, Merdan Ibrahim, and Nationwide
Investments, LLC. Plaintiffs asserted claims for violations
of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and
the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act; slander of title;
fraud; violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 30-2-712
(recording false affidavits); liability pursuant to Tennessee
Code section 66-22-113 (failure to discharge the duties and
obligations of a notary public); trespass and ejectment; and
civil conspiracy. The Plaintiffs sought injunctive and
declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and
relief from judgments finalizing redemptions and quieting
title to properties that were obtained by Defendants'
trial court granted Plaintiffs a temporary injunction on July
24, 2015, stating in pertinent part:
The Plaintiffs have accused the Defendants of engaging in
criminal acts of facilitating, assisting and/or forging
signatures of notaries; committing perjury about the
authenticity of real property documents; and aiding, abetting
and/or committing fraud as to chain of title to real
Before the Court is clear, unrebutted evidence that in the
space of the year and one half Defendant REO has been
acquiring tax sale redemption properties, signatures and
notary seals on at least 10 instruments (quitclaim deeds,
affidavits of heirship and assignments of lien) were forged
property transactions involving REO and its principals,
Defendants Walker and Johnson. The five notaries, whose names
and seals appear on property documents in this case, have
filed declarations that these are forgeries.
The forgeries involve different notaries in different states,
properties in various locations in Tennessee, with various
grantors. The only common element in all the forgeries is
that all of these various transactions involve Defendants
REO, Walker and Johnson.
The Defendants do not dispute or contest the forgeries.
Instead, they assert that they were unaware and were not
involved in the forgeries and were recipients of forged
. . .[T]he Court finds that the record in this case
demonstrates a substantial likelihood of success on the
merits by the Plaintiffs that the Defendants are not
complying with the statutory electronic filing requirements
of real property documents in conducting their business of
acquiring tax sale properties; that noncompliance gives
Defendants an advantage over their competition, the
Plaintiffs, in the tax sale property marketplace; and that
noncompliance poses substantial risk to the public welfare of
the registration of forged real estate documents in the
It is therefore ORDERED that upon the Plaintiffs posting a
$5, 000 bond, Defendants REO Holdings, LLC; Charles E.
Walker; Jon Paul Johnson and their employees and agents,
including but not limited to, Defendant Julie Coone and
Merdan Ibrahim, are enjoined from:
(1) Recording, whether electronically or in person, any
document with any Register of Deeds in the state of Tennessee
until the Defendants have completed the two actions of (a)
Defendants having in their possession a "wet seal"
color coded notary seal and/or an embossed notary seal on the
document they intend to file and (b) Defendants having filed
a Notice, with this Court and copy to counsel, with appended
thereto every document, from this day forward, the Defendants
intend to record with any Register of Deeds in the State of
(2)Transferring or encumbering the real property identified
in their Response to Plaintiffs' Interrogatory No. 3 and
in Exhibit A to their Response to Plaintiffs'
Interrogatory No. 3 ...