Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Help Me Howard: Paying a Judgment
Does anyone owe you money? Are you having trouble collecting? When that happens, many people get a judgment. But what if they still refuse to pay? That's a question one woman had, and so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Molly Choy will tell you she has a big, soft heart.
Molly Choy: "His mother had apparently thrown him out of the house, and he came here asking me to spend a couple of weeks until he could find a job."
So Molly let her son's teenage friend move in and began to treat him like one of her children.
Molly Choy: "Free rent, I bought him clothes, I gave him pocket money, I bought him a cell phone, I took him out to dinner. Everything I did for my own children, I did for him."
Ryan Persaud became a part of her family, and when a few weeks of free living turned into a few months, she did not complain.
Molly Choy: "I trusted him, because he is a friend of my son's, and we all knew him. He was like a part of my family."
But there were five things Molly didn't know about Persaud, namely, five warrants out for his arrest: four for driving on a suspended license and one for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Molly Choy: "I had no idea. Honestly, I had no idea he had these warrants out on him."
But when Persaud was booked in the Broward County Jail, Molly didn't turn her back on him.
Molly Choy: "I bailed him out, brought him to my house, took him to each and every court hearing, took him to all the classes."
It cost Molly $500 to bail him out, but after she helped him get his legal problems cleared up, she told him the free ride was over, that he would have to pay her back for bailing him out.
Molly Choy: "He said, 'OK, I will bring your money tomorrow morning.' I waited, waited, waited."
But he didn't repay her. Instead, he moved back in with his mother. So Molly decided to take him to small claims court.
Molly Choy: "Ryan Persaud or his mother did not show up for the hearing, and I was issued a judgment: $500 plus $90 court cost."
But the final judgment ordering Persaud to repay Molly didn't faze him. Months have passed and...
Molly Choy: "Hasn't paid a dime. It's been almost a year. I have tried to contact him. No response."
Molly was stunned. She thought a judge's order carried a little weight and would force the 21-year-old to pay her money back.
Molly Choy: "At first I thought it would, but after I waited for three months and I hadn't heard from him or got any money from him, I sort of gave up."
But she decided to call Help Me Howard to find out if a final judgment from a court can be ignored. Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, you can ignore a final judgment, because it's just a piece of paper until the creditor, like Molly, takes that piece of paper and gets a judge to garnish the debtor's bank accounts or paychecks or slaps a lien on their property if they have any."
When I contacted Ryan Persaud, he told me he hadn't spoken to Molly because, needless to say, they weren't on good terms. He told me he did not have $590, but he promised to repay her $200 this week, then $100 from the next four paychecks till the judgment is satisfied.
And if you are having trouble collecting on a judgment, Howard has a suggestion.
Howard Finkelstein: "The easiest way to get your money is to garnish the debtor's paycheck. To do that, contact your county clerk's office. They will give you the forms you need and instructions on how to collect up to 25 percent of each of their paychecks until you get what you are owed."
Hopefully, Persaud will keep his word and start repaying Molly, but she has lost one thing she will never recover: her soft heart.
Molly Choy: "I learned a very good lesson: not to even try to help anybody anymore."
Patrick Fraser: "Now you can garnish a debtor's paycheck, but what if they don't have a job or even a bank account? Well, you can't take their unemployment, social security or disability checks, but you can go after any property they have, even a car. So don't give up. Get the paperwork from the clerk's office and go after your money."
Collecting troubles you want to pass on? Contact us. You won't be in debt to us. We won't judge you and hopefully, you will get a pay off.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: