Woman sues former live-in over assets

Kelly Holleran Oct. 13, 2009, 4:44am

A St. Clair County woman has filed suit against her former live-in roommate, claiming he took more than $130,000 by telling the court she gave the money to him as a gift.

Carolyn Hofstetter claims she lived with defendant Timothy M. Mehrtens at 7664 Hertel Road in Millstadt from 1991 until 2007.

While the two were living together, Mehrtens told Hofstetter he was an expert day trader and persuaded her to give him $131,000, saying he could do a better job of managing the money than investors who were handling it at Merrill Lynch, according to the complaint filed Oct. 1 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

In addition to the $131,000, Hofstetter also gave Mehrtens $14,000 worth of stock from Manufacturer's Life Insurance, the suit states.

"That it was the understanding and agreement of the Plaintiff that the Defendant was investing said sums of money and stock for the benefit of the Plaintiff," the complaint says.

But after Mehrtens moved out, multiple arguments over money and possessions have taken place in the courts.

Since Hofstetter filed a domestic violence order of protection against Mehrtens, he is claiming she gave the money to him, which Hofstettter only learned on Aug. 4, 2008, during a deposition hearing.

It was not until the deposition hearing that Hofstetter learned Mehrtens converted the assets to his name alone, she claims.

Not only did Mehrtens take the money from Hofstetter, but he also has taken a 2000 Ford Ranger from her, according to the complaint.

While the pair were living together, Mehrtens requested that Hofstetter purchase the truck through his name so he could claim the vehicle as an expense on his tax returns, according to the complaint. Even though the truck would be in Mehrtens' name, both agreed that it would rightfully belong to Hofstetter, the suit states.

In December 2005, Mehrtens signed off the title to Hofstetter, the complaint says. Ever since the vehicle was purchased, Hofstetter has driven it and has continued to maintain automobile liability insurance on it, the complaint says.

A plenary order entered on June 11, 2007, allowed Hofstetter possession of the truck, she claims.

But a judge has since decided that the court did not have jurisdiction to make such an order and ordered the truck be released to Mehrtens, even though Hofstetter claims she is the true owner, according to the complaint.

Also on June 11, 2007, Hofstetter was forced out of the Millstadt house she shared with Mehrtens. But she claims she is the rightful owner of the property, which is worth $30,000.

In the six-count suit, Hofstetter is seeking a judgment of $350,000, plus interest and costs. She is also asking the court to release and transfer the title of the truck.

She will be represented by Don Cary Collins of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-523.

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