Portland city councilor seeks to discharge lien on her home

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PORTLAND — A five-year old lien is at the center of a new court fight over the home of City Councilor Jill Duson.

Duson on Monday declined to discuss the case. She is scheduled for an April 25 hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 537 Congress St., in an effort to discharge almost $35,000 in debt to Trademark Federal Credit Union.

The lien was placed on a $50,000 U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development mortgage, handled by Trademark FCU, on Duson’s 101 Pennell Ave. home. Duson obtained the mortgage in November 2011, according to court records.

Trademark originally sought $21,000; accrued interest and court costs have increased the amount. The credit union is listed on debt schedules from Duson’s June 20, 2012, Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing; the specific HUD mortgage is not.

Her bankruptcy was discharged Oct. 2, 2012, and Duson is asking the court to reopen the case to discharge the lien because, in part, it prohibits her from obtaining a $95,000 state homestead exemption on her house, according to court records.

Because she was younger than 60 when she filed for bankruptcy, Duson was then receiving a $47,500 homestead exemption.

In an April 3 filing, Trademark’s attorney, Daniel Cummings, said Duson should have filed to discharge the lien with the original case in 2012.

Cummings said court precedent shows time is of the essence in reopening bankruptcy cases.

“The Reopen Motion should be denied because the Debtor has failed to allege any facts that would constitute sufficient cause to reopen the case nearly 5 years later,” he said.

The HUD mortgage was the second on the house. In 2008, Duson took out a $198,500 mortgage with Wells Fargo.

In the bankruptcy, Duson claimed assets of almost $199,000, with all but $7,300 in the house city tax records show she bought in 1997. Her debts were listed at $284,000.

Duson has served as a city councilor and on the School Board for nearly 20 years. She was also mayor for two, one-year terms when the post was chosen by councilors. Her current term expires this year, and she has said she will seek re-election to her at-large seat.

Munjoy Hill resident Joey Brunelle has announced he will run against Duson.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.