Tarrant DA: Squatters don't understand adverse possession

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on November 8, 2011 at 9:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 8 at 10:03 PM

MANSFIELD — A vacant Fort Worth mansion is valued at more than $3 million, but a woman claimed it recently for a $16 filing fee under the law of adverse possession.

"Some of these people are saying, 'Once we file the affidavit, that gives me the house,'" said Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon. "And that is not right."

On Monday, Shannon warned that the claims are fraudulent. He said Texas statutes on adverse possession do not apply to squatters taking over empty properties.

"They require either three, five, 10, or 25 years for them to take effect," Shannon said. "They can't take effect in three days."

According to police records, Minister Tony Brown claimed adverse possession and took over his neighbor's house while she was out of town. Brown, the founder of Believers in Faith International Ministries, is charged with burglary.

Records obtained by News 8 show he was also sentenced to six years in prison on fraud charges in the 1970s.

Investigators want to know whether Brown is part of a complex scheme to take homes.

A squatter News 8 found Monday in a $400,000 Arlington residence said he had never heard of Brown, as did another squatter News 8 found Tuesday in a large Mansfield home.

We wanted to ask the woman who claimed the Fort Worth mansion, but with the gates still chained shut, it looks like she hasn't yet found a way in.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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