HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Thonotosassa woman is struggling to regain her rights to inherited land that she claims she lost by signing a “blank piece of paper.”
The dispute involves a 3.5 acre piece of land with a small home on it on Martin Road in the Dover area of Hillsborough County. It was inherited by the children of the previous owner, and according to a number of online sites, it is worth about $250,000.
But earlier this year the ownership changed.
Susan Eatman, 80, of Thonotosassa, claims the next door neighbor, Mark Oliver, approached her with what she said was a “high pressure sales” tactic and a blank piece of paper.
“We were at a birthday dinner in [a local restaurant],” Eatman recalled. “He was very aggressive.
He continues to say just sign the paper and I’m saying I’m not signing anything. I don’t even know you.”
“I did sign it,” she said. “A blank piece of paper.”
She claims her signature on the blank piece of paper somehow ended up on a quitclaim deed that effectively removed her name from the deed and eliminated her stake in the real estate.
According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigators, surveillance video shows Oliver filing the paperwork that put his name on the deed.
Eatman tried to stop it but was too late, and that is when reality hit her.
“I’m in trouble,” she recalled thinking afterwards. “I’ve done something stupid.”
In June, the sheriff’s office turned its investigation over to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, according to documents reviewed by 8 On Your Side.
State Attorney Communications Director Erin Maloney said the case “is still active in our office, but no charges have been filed as of today.”
Oliver referred us to his attorneys. Cheyenne Whitfield, who is defending him in Eatman’s civil lawsuit, referred 8 On Your Side to his criminal attorney, Bryant Camareno.
“My client has not been charged with a crime,” Camareno said. “And he has not been found guilty of a crime.”
In Oliver’s response to Eatman’s civil lawsuit, he denied he did anything wrong and stated “the deed is not fraudulent and was not signed under fraudulent terms.”
Oliver also claims Eatman’s sister Jaquelyn White was compensated with $40,000, an air conditioning unit, groceries and healthcare payments.
White, who lives in the home on the property, is also named in the civil lawsuit. She has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Eatman said she has not received any money from Oliver.
“No. None,” she said. “This has been awful. I have wanted to say, just forget it. To heck with it. I didn’t know people could just go in and take your property.”
The children of two siblings of White and Eatman passed away, but their heirs remain on the deed, according to land records.