Mark pleaded "no contest" in November 2010 to organized fraud, a felony. His lawyer was willing to fight the charges, but Mark said he didn't want to risk ending up in jail and leaving his wife and kids stranded without a husband and father. Circuit Judge Matthew Destry sentenced him to two years of probation and 100 community service hours. One of the stipulations of his probation was that he could not file any more claims of adverse possession. None of his former tenants came forward to collect restitution.

By this time, Mark's story was of national interest. On November 8, 2010, the New York Times published a story about his adventures in adverse possession, with the headline "At Legal Fringe, Empty Houses Go to the Needy." Fabian Ferguson and Juslaine Charles, who moved to another one of Mark's houses after being kicked out of the one they found with Ed and Shelly, were the center of the story. In the days after its publication, TV stations, reporters, and photographers appeared at their doorstep. Fabian refers to it as the "New York Times incident."

By now, the tenants were on their own to face the banks. When Mark heard about Terry Smith's eviction in January, he expressed little sympathy for Terry's family. "They were living rent-free for more than six months," he said. "They shouldn't really be complaining."

It's true that the family saved thousands since Mark's lawyer advised him to stop collecting rent. But in Terry's mind, his rent-free months were a small atonement for being conned into thinking the house was within his reach.


And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work...

Once again, Ed and Shelly Nichols had nowhere to go. They stopped paying rent at Mark's request in April 2010. Later, a man from the bank came and offered them a check for a thousand dollars to hand over the keys and leave the house. This is a trifling nicety offered by banks to give the appearance of a transaction, so that evictions will go smoothly. Ed and Shelly swept the house broom-clean and moved back in with Ed's mom. They piled back onto the couch one evening to watch Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, and toward the end, Ed felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck with a jolt of recognition. The man who had given them a check to leave their home was on the screen, doing the same thing with a family in Miami. The man from the bank had a neutral expression, his tone patient but unyielding.

After the movie ended, Michael Moore was not there to bring light to Ed and Shelly's problems. He could not highlight some grave injustice that had robbed them of a home. Once again, they were simply another family without enough money.


He has the power to restore, the power to forgive, the power to cleanse you of all your sins!

"Yes!" Mark says, now as clean-shaven as he'll ever be. He stands up in church: his vestments wool slacks and an ironed shirt, a golden-ringed hand raised toward the ceiling of Grace Family Worship Center in Coral Springs. His other arm is around his wife, who holds out her palms, opening the life before her like a book. And now they're singing, praising, saying Jesus, and there's an eight-piece band and somebody in the back row wails, just straight-up wails, until the priest comes over to hold her, and everybody sways, hands are clapping, and Yes, Jesus, and they feel him here in the room...

Mark's story doesn't end in a victory: no great wealth, no accolades, no more houses for the needy. It's not a tragedy or a comedy — and it's certainly not part of the endless upward trajectory that people associate with the American dream. He avoided jail, and he tries to stave off his own foreclosure day by day. He says that after paying for his legal defense, Saving Florida Homes actually lost him money. But nobody has ever told him that adverse possession is illegal, and not all of his former tenants think of themselves as victims. A few of them have been able to work out temporary rental agreements with the banks.

Mark thinks about the future, and what his role in it will be. He has a new project that he's not ready to discuss yet. "I've never done things conventionally," he says. "Whenever my pastor talks about risk, he looks at me."

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17 comments
SHINDIG
SHINDIG

MARK SAID THAT HE HAD TO MAKE A LIVING AND IF IT HURT ANYONE " I REALLY DO NOT CARE" U CALL THAT ' A LIVING"????? HE SITS IN A FORECLOSED HOME,HAS A CONDO AND YES SIRRY BOB" HE  DRIVES AROUND IN A HUMMER LOOKING FOR MORE VICTIMS!!!! ONLY IN FLORIDA!!!!! HE SHOULD BE HANG BY HIS BALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

JUST WHO DOES MARK THINK HE IS,GOD??????????????????????? HE SHOULD BE IN A DARK,COLD CELL,TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

HE STANDS PROUDLY,HANDS ON HIPS ,DARK SUNGLASSES,READY TO PRAY ON INNOCENT PEOPLE,JUST LIKE HIS SISTER OR  SHOULD I SAY :SWINDLER" HE SHOULD BE IN JAIL,WHO DID HE PAY OFF??????????????????????????????????

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

MARK IS A THIEF,LIAR,SWINDLER AND GOES TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Steve Dibert
Steve Dibert

If anyone gets a sales pitch where the salesman talks about finding God after doing drugs or alcohol for decades, run, run fast and far. Most of the clients I get who are victims of foreclosure ripoff schemes tell me they get the same pitch.

haihei
haihei

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Sam
Sam

Sadly, there is enough blame to go around, the banks, the developers, the complicit planning boards, the home owners, the mortgage companies, the squatters. All play their part.

EndAdversePossession
EndAdversePossession

Adverse possession needs to be abolished. It is an outdated, arcane, unnecessary and unjust law that needs to end. People like Mark Guerette pervert it as an effort to take something for nothing. This is why it is called "legalized land theft." Legislators should be ashamed for not doing anything about this horrible law.

Chsnttb
Chsnttb

Guerette made $30,000 a month working for some shady mortgage company before the bust... he should be investigated for mortgage fraud, which is more offensive than his more recent activities.

guest
guest

How typical.... the family lives rent free for 6 months and is offered thousands to move out and they are still complaining that they have nowhere to go....

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

U MUST BE HIS PAL,DICKHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

MARK IS STILL AT IT AND SO AIN'T THE SWINDLER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHO IS BIG ENUOGH TO STOP HIM,CERTAINLY, NOT THE COPS,AFTER ALL,THEY PROTECT SCUMBAGS LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tostupid
Tostupid

Before you throw stones maybe you should find out the truth. This story is incorrectly written and leaves out many pertinent facts. Mr. Guerette help the Smiths out with a place to live after Mr. Smith keep getting turned down due to his poor credit and his criminal record of drug dealing. If what Mr. Guerette was doing was so criminally wrong, why did Mr. Smith stay living on the property, why didn't he pack up and leave. Mr. Smith and his family were warned that a day would come when they would have to move. So they decided to stay anyways for over 12 months which they aid no rent to any body. He claims he spent 10 grand on living there which is odd due to the fact that he sided with the state to accuse Mr. Guerette of wrong doing then he stays in the house and spends 10 grand to fix it? Mr. Smith show the receipts...What did you do with all the money you saved by living rent free off the back of Mr. Guerette?

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

THIS MUST BE MARK TALKING ABOUT HIMSELF,IF NOT,IT MUST BE HIS SWINDLER SISTER OR HIS WIFE,MARLENE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

007 U AIN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHINDIG
SHINDIG

FUCKING LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
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