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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Did They Have a Deal for Her …

MILWAUKEE (CN) - A 79-year-old widow with dementia, who reads English with difficulty, was conned out of the home she lived in for 30 years, and had almost paid off, she says in a complaint against Peel Back the Onion, a Milwaukee real estate company.

Aurora Rivera, 79, believed she was loaning $5,000 to her nephew's girlfriend, not selling her home for that much, according to her complaint in Milwaukee County Court.

Rivera says she trusted the girlfriend, who is not named as a defendant, "to look out for her best interest and was both intimidated and manipulated by her."

Rivera says she found out later that the woman got a $500 "finder's fee" for conveyance of the property, which is assessed at $69,300.

Rivera says the scheme was orchestrated by Peel Back the Onion, which is run by Mark Roeker, who "is experienced in real estate matters," but is not named as an individual defendant.

Rivera says Peel Back the Onion never paid her any money for the sale, forced her to sign a lease, threatened to evict her even before she knew she had signed over the deed, and began evicting her in March.

Rivera, a native Spanish-speaker, speaks little English and does not read either language well. She "is extremely proud of her house and committed to remaining there," and "had no intentional of selling her house," according to the complaint.

She was formally adjudicated as incompetent this month after her doctor submitted paperwork to Social Security stating that he did not believe she was capable of managing her benefits because of dementia.

She says she had no idea a warranty deed and Residential Offer to Purchase were included in the paperwork she signed. She lived in her home with her husband until he died in 1995, and since then by herself. She "had absolutely no intention of selling the house that she cherishes ... [and] contains many items of tremendous sentimental and personal value to her."

Rivera seeks quiet title, nullification of the supposed sale agreement, costs and damages for unconscionability, mental incompetency and gross inadequacy of price. She is represented by the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.

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