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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
AUSTIN DIVISION

______________________________

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

           Plaintiff,

v.

ANIBAL AND JANET SILVA,

           Defendant.

Case No.

COMPLAINT

______________________________

The United States of America alleges as follows:

NATURE OF ACTION

1. This is a civil action brought by the United States to enforce Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619 (the "Fair Housing Act"). It is brought on behalf of Virginia Jaimes, Porfirio Alcantara, Celestino Medrano, and Martha Elena Puerto, pursuant to Section 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o), and pursuant to Section 814(a) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

JURISDICTION & VENUE

2.This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345, and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o) and 3614.

3.Venue is proper in this judicial district under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), in that the events giving rise to this action occurred in this judicial district.

PARTIES

4. Defendant Janet Silva owns three single-family homes located at 8014 Briarton Drive, Austin, Texas, 4607 Candletree Lane, Austin, Texas, 802 Norwell Lane, Pflugerville, Texas, or did own said homes at all times relevant to this complaint. Defendant Janet Silva was engaged in the business of selling, renting and managing "dwellings," as that term is defined by Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

5. Defendant Anibal Silva was engaged in the business of selling, renting and managing "dwellings," as that term is defined by Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

6. Defendant Anibal Silva owned and operated a real-estate business known as Capital Funding Group at all times relevant to this complaint.

7. Defendant Anibal Silva offered for sale the properties located at 8014 Briarton Drive, Austin, Texas, 4607 Candletree Lane, Austin, Texas, 802 Norwell Lane, Pflugerville, Texas, and 16413 Parkway Drive, Pflugerville, Texas, at times relevant to this complaint.

8. The properties located at 8014 Briarton Drive, Austin, Texas, 4607 Candletree Lane, Austin, Texas, 802 Norwell Lane, Pflugerville, Texas, and 16413 Parkway Drive, Pflugerville, Texas are "dwellings" within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3602(b).

9. Defendants Anibal and Janet Silva have been engaged in residential real estate-related transactions within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3605(b) at all times relevant to this complaint.

10. Virginia Jaimes is a Hispanic female, place of national origin being Mexico, and a single mother of four children. She resided at the Silvas' Briarton Drive property from August 2002 to January 2003. She resided at the Silvas' Candletree Lane property from January 2003 to August 2003.

11. Porfirio Alcantara is a Hispanic male, place of national origin being Mexico.

He resided at the Silvas' Norwell Avenue property from January 2003 to August 2003.

12. Celestino Medrano is a Hispanic male, place of national origin being Mexico. He resided at the Silvas' Norwell Avenue property for a short period of time around August 2003.

13. Martha Elena Puerto is a Hispanic female, place of national origin being Mexico. She attempted to purchase the property located at 16413 Parkway Drive, Pflugerville, Texas between February and June 2003.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Virginia Jaimes

14. On or about August 16, 2002, Virginia Jaimes attempted to purchase a home located at 8014 Briarton Drive, Austin, Texas from Defendant Janet Silva. Defendant Anibal Silva acted as the agent for Defendant Janet Silva. At all relevant times, Janet Silva owned the property.

15. Jaimes was led to believe by Defendants that she was purchasing a home. Instead, Silva had her sign an English-language version of the Texas Association of Realtors "Residential Lease Agreement." The agreement stated that she was to pay $1,500 a month to Defendant Janet Silva.

16. On or about August 16, 2002, Jaimes paid to Defendants $6,000, which Defendants led her to believe was a down payment towards the purchase of the property.

17. On or about August 23, 2002, Jaimes moved into the house located on 8014 Briarton Drive.

18. On or about January 29, 2003, Defendant Anibal Silva evicted Jaimes from 8014 Briarton Drive, for alleged delinquency on her "mortgage payment," and obtained a default judgment against her. Despite having a default judgment against her, Anibal Silva did not request the issuance of a writ of possession.

19. Instead of evicting Jaimes, Anibal Silva moved Jaimes temporarily to a motel, and then to another property owned by his wife, at 4607 Candletree Lane, Austin, Texas.

20. Once Jaimes moved to the Candletree Lane home, Defendant Anibal Silva told her that she was now buying the Candletree Lane house and any money she had paid on the 8014 Briarton Drive home was lost.

21. Jaimes requested a copy of the agreement for 4607 Candletree Lane, but Defendant Anibal Silva informed her that she would have to pay $500 before he would release the agreement to her.

22. On or about August 3, 2003, Defendant Anibal Silva attempted to evict Jaimes from 4607 Candletree Lane.

23. During the period which Jaimes lived at the Briarton and Candletree residences, Defendant Anibal Silva would arrive unannounced after business hours and demand entry. If Jaimes did not open the door for him, he would continue to knock or return to his car and sit and watch the house.

24. Defendant Anibal Silva would often demand payments in cash and would often not provide receipts.

25. As a result of Defendants' behavior, Jaimes felt intimidated, harassed, and coerced.

Porfirio Alcantara

26. On or about January 13, 2003, Porfirio Alcantara attempted to purchase a home located at 802 Norwell Lane, Pflugerville, Texas, making a down payment of between $5,000 and $7,000.

27. The contract he and his wife signed was written in English, and was also signed by Janet Silva. It refers to them at the "Buyers" and "Seller," and indicates that it concerns the "sale of a single family residence or Manufactured Home." The contact does not indicate that it was lease with an option to purchase, or any comparable arrangement. The total payment would have been $20,400.

28. On or about February 7, 2003, Porfirio Alcantara moved into 802 Norwell Lane.

29. After moving into the home, Alcantara discovered that he had not purchased the home, but was just leasing the property.

30. Upon discovering that the Silvas had not sold the Norwell Lane property to him, Alcantara contacted an attorney, who advised him to negotiate a refund of the down payment. While negotiating the refund, Alcantara was informed by the Defendants that he was actually leasing the house for two years.

31. On or about August 1, 2003, Alcantara negotiated a written agreement with Defendant Anibal Silva, where Silva agreed to refund Alcantara the sum of $2,550 in two payments. Alcantara moved out of the home and received a check for $1,550 on August 1, 2003, but was never paid the balance of $1,000.

32. On or about September 15, 2004, Alcantara was sued by Defendants Anibal Silva and Janet Silva for breach of contract in Small Claims Court, Precinct Two, in Travis County, Texas. Upon information and belief, this suit is still pending.

33. During the period which Alcantara lived at Norwell Lane, Defendant Anibal Silva would show up at Norwell Lane unannounced during the evening hours. Silva was often spotted driving around the neighborhood or sitting outside the home at night.

34. Defendant Anibal Silva would often demand to be paid in cash and often would not provide receipts.

35. As a result of Defendants' behavior, Alcantara felt intimidated, harassed, and coerced.

Celestino Medrano

36. On or about August 1, 2003, Celestino Medrano attempted to purchase a home through a "contract for deed" from Defendants Anibal and Janet Silva after paying $3,500 as a down payment. The house was located at 802 Norwell Lane, Pflugerville, Texas. The total payment on the house would have been approximately $25,000.

37. Medrano later learned that his purchase was potentially a sham. Medrano demanded a refund from Defendant Anibal Silva, but he was refused. Medrano then demanded a copy of his contract but he was told that it would have to be sent from California.

38. Approximately one month later, Medrano moved out of the house.

39. On or about September 29, 2004, Medrano was sued by Defendants Anibal Silva and Janet Silva for breach of contract in Small Claims Court, Precinct Two, in Travis County, Texas. This suit is still pending and no dates have been set.

Martha Elena Puerto

40. On or about February 7, 2003, Martha Elena Puerto and her husband sought to purchase a home located at 16413 Parkway Drive, Pflugerville, Texas, through their realtor, Liliana Ramirez.

41. At times relevant to this complaint, Defendant Anibal Silva and/or Capital Funding Group employed Liliana Ramirez.

42. Anibal Silva informed Puerto that the interest rate would be approximately 9.0%, collected $1,030 from her for title work, taxes, and other undetermined purposes, and stated that the down payment would be $5,000. Puerto put down $500 as an earnest money deposit.

43. Financing for the transaction was arranged through Finance America, an Irvine, California company, by Capital Funding Group. The forms were in English.

44. On or about June 25, 2003, a day or two before the closing, Anibal Silva contacted Puerto to schedule a meeting. Silva told Puerto that her interest rate would increase to approximately 10%, and she needed to give Defendant Anibal Silva $12,000 down instead of the $5,000 originally quoted.

45. In response to this information, Puerto terminated the transaction and demanded a refund.

46. At this meeting, Ramirez was fired when she objected to Silva's business practices and treatment of Puerto.

47. Puerto and her husband subsequently purchased another dwelling at an interest rate of 6%.

HUD Investigation and Charge

48. As required by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted an investigation of Jaimes', Alcantara's, Medrano's and Puerto's complaints, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in this investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that illegal discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Therefore, on or about July 12, 2005, the Secretary issued a Determination of Reasonable Cause and Charge of Discrimination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g), charging the Defendants with discrimination on the basis of national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a) and (b), 3605, and 3617.

49. On August 5, 2005, Defendants Anibal and Janet Silva elected to have the claims asserted in HUD's Charge of Discrimination resolved in a federal civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).

50. On August 8, 2005, the Chief Administrative Law Judge issued a Notice of Election and terminated the administrative proceeding on the HUD complaints filed by Jaimes, Alcantara, Medrano, and Puerto.

51. Following this Notice of Election, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).

COUNT I

52. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 51 above.

53. By the actions and statements referred to in the foregoing paragraphs, Defendants Anibal and Janet Silva have:

(a) Refused to sell or rent, refused to negotiate for the sale or rental, or otherwise made unavailable, a dwelling because of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(a);

(b) Discriminated in the terms, conditions or privileges of the rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, on the basis of national origin, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(b);

(c) Discriminated in the making or terms or conditions of residential real estate-related transactions in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3605; and

(d) Coerced, intimidated, threatened or interfered with persons in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of their having exercised or enjoyed, their rights under the Fair Housing Act, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3617.

54. Jaimes, Alcantara, Medrano, and Puerto are "aggrieved persons" as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and suffered injuries as a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct.

55. Defendants' actions described in the preceding paragraphs were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of Jaimes, Alcantara, Medrano, and Puerto.

COUNT II

56. Plaintiff re-alleges and herein incorporates by reference the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 55 above.

57. Defendants' conduct described above constitutes:

(a) A pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a), 3604(b), 3605 and 3617, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a); and

(b) A denial to a group of persons of rights granted by the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a), 3604(b), 3605 and 3617, which raises an issue of general public importance, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3614(a).

58. In addition to Jaimes, Alcantara, Medrano, and Puerto, there may be other victims of Defendants' discriminatory actions and practices who are "aggrieved persons" as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i). These persons may have suffered actual injury and damages as a result of Defendants' discriminatory conduct.

59. Defendants' actions were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of others.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:

a. Declares that the Defendants Anibal and Janet Silva's conduct as set forth above violates the Fair Housing Act;

b. Enjoins Defendants Anibal and Janet Silva and their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them, from discriminating on the basis of national origin in violation of the Fair Housing Act;

c. Awards monetary damages to Jaimes, Alcantara, Medrano, and Puerto and to all other persons harmed by the Defendants' discriminatory practices, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3), 3613(c)(1), and 3614(d)(1)(B);

d. Assesses a civil penalty, based upon the claims in Count II, against the Defendants in an amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 3614(d)(1)(C), to vindicate the public interest.

The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.


Dated: _______________________





JOHNNY SUTTON
United States Attorney

______________________
By: JOSEPH C. RODRIGUEZ
Ohio Bar No. 0072958
Assistant United States Attorney
Western District of Texas
601 NW Loop 410, Suite 600
San Antonio, TX 78216

ALBERTO R. GONZALES
Attorney General

______________________
BRADLEY J. SCHLOZMAN
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

______________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and
Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division

______________________
NICOLE PORTER
Deputy Chief
JOSEPH GAETA, Attorney
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Northwestern Building, 7th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20530
Phone: (202) 353-9062
Fax: (202) 514-1116


Document Filed: September 6, 2005
General Information Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
 
Leadership
Steven H. Rosenbaum
Chief
Contact
Housing & Civil
Enforcement Section
(202) 514-4713
TTY - 202-305-1882
FAX - (202) 514-1116
To Report an Incident of Housing Discrimination:
1-800-896-7743
Mailing Contact
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, NWB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Email: fairhousing@usdoj.gov

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