She never expected they’d all have mugshots; her brother, her ex-husband, her mother and herself.
But Noel Sims is finding out just how serious prosecutors are in linking them all to what’s been described as a scheme to steal a home from a family in Nolensville.
Across the nation, Sims’ brother, Leighton Ward, is accused of running similar schemes that have him accused of committing what’s called “paper terrorism.”
“It's so far from the truth,” Noel Sims said.
She is the first in her family to talk about the criminal charges that she said came out of nowhere.
“I was in utter shock. I was like - what? Say that again?” she said.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Sims path to criminal charges when her brother, Ward, came to her with what at first seemed to be ludicrous claim: that the mortgage was fraudulent on the family home where she and their mother lived, and he wanted to sue her mortgage lender in something called the Federal Postal Court.
Ward later explained that the way her mortgage was written included incorrect syntax and that because her mortgage lender had failed to respond in Postal Court, there was a judgment now on the home and she was entitled to a large sum of money.
“Did you think – ‘this is crazy? This is insane. This can't possibly be true?” asked the News4 I-Team.
“Sure, but the way he described it, it made sense,” Sims said.
Sims said she alerted her realtor of the judgment by the Federal Postal Court when her mother sold the property in Nolensville, and promptly didn’t think of it again.
Sims said she remarried and moved to Michigan, and was unaware that Ward would go to the new owners of the family’s old house, Brad and Emily Qualls, and tell them they were trespassing.
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
The News4 I-Team first exposed last June what happened next, how the Qualls ultimately took out a restraining order because they came to fear Ward, and how anti-hate groups believe what he is doing is called paper terrorism.
Ward is accused of being a sovereign citizen who doesn’t believe in our form of government and files the mortgage fraud lawsuits in the fictional court as vindication of the ideology.
The News4 I-Team also found that Ward is accused of spreading the same claims about fraudulent mortgages and taking people’s money to file the lawsuits, throughout California and Arizona.
Prosecutors allege in court filings that Sims, her ex-husband and her mother intended to defraud the Qualls by selling the home, and then taking out an insurance claim on the property afterwards declaring it was their own.
When Sims learned of the criminal charges, including attempted theft and criminal simulation, she was stunned.
Sims said she had no idea her brother had gone to the Qualls to talk about the faulty mortgages, but she remembers what the told the couple when they contacted her afterward.
“I don't know what Leighton is doing, I don't understand it, but I know he doesn't have bad intent. He truly wants to help you and he wants to help us,” she said.
Ward told the Qualls as well that their mortgages were fraudulent, and they should sue their mortgage lenders and when it was settled in the Federal Postal Court, they could split the proceeds.
“(Ward’s) also been described as running a pretty elaborate scheme that you are now charged in,” asked the News4 I-Team.
“I don't believe there's malice in him, I don't believe he's out to hurt anybody,” Sims said.
Sims said her brother truly believes that the mortgages are fraudulent and she hasn’t seen any proof that his beliefs are wrong.
“You don't believe what he's done is a scheme? You don't believe he's tried to scam people out of money?” asked the I-Team.
“No. I don't. I know him. It's not who he is. He's truly trying to right a huge wrong,” Sims said.
“What would you say to people who might see this and say, this poor woman, she has no idea that she is caught up in her brother's madness?” asked the I-Team.
“I wouldn't call it madness. I call it passion,” she said.
“Bottom line, at the end, of the day, you have criminal charges, you are being sued, and it's all because of your brother. How do you make peace with that?” asked the I-Team.
“I just live my life with my husband and we fight this the only way we know how. And that's with truth,” Sims said.
Sims said a not-guilty plea was issued on her behalf, and she intends to fight the charges.
Ward remains in an Arizona jail facing charges in that state, and neither Sims’ ex-husband nor mother has responded to our request for comment.
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