Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Info: No Blessing In Sight

Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes are not going to lose their half-million-dollar house in Virginia Beach after all—or at least, not to the Commonwealth.

In a remarkable reversal, Virginia state prosecutors are poised to back away from plans to seize the home on Stratem Court, according to a law enforcement source close to the Virginia state RICO investigation. The Commonwealth has been looking into what they say was a prostitution and money-laundering operation that Cuadra and Kerekes ran for several years and has been busily freezing all of their assets.

But it seems that due to Cuadra’s and Kerekes’ other debts (including a second mortgage on the home in question) the house holds “little to no equity” to be seized. In short, the home where the accused killers lived before their May arrests is just not worth the Commonwealth’s time to take away.

As posted previously on this blog, credit records show that the jailed pair owes nearly a million dollars in mortgages, auto loans and credit-card bills. But that didn’t keep Virginia authorities from entering the Stratem Court house and carting away everything from plasma TVs to a necklace that dangles a tiny golden cross—all of it taken when Cuadra and Kerekes were arrested on murder charges earlier this year.

Authorities had originally planned to take everything else of value, as well: the bling, the computers, “the hot tub and everything attached to it.” But they're passing on the house.

The lack of equity in the house casts gloom on the defense funds that both men's families have been loudly touting online. In fact, Harlow’s 'bloggist' Renee wrote online about a coming ‘blessing’ just this week. If news of the return of the house is what she’s been awaiting, she will find it to be a blessing that’s terribly well-disguised.

So perhaps Harlow and Joe and Renee and the rest can celebrate... but only for a little while. Word is, the house that Boybatter built is going back to the bank anyway, and if convicted, the young men who lived in it still face life in prison.

Update: This story was edited on 28 July to correct an error of fact.

-- Both PC & KM contributed to this story.