In a complaint filed Tuesday in Superior Court, Debra J. Shatley, president of the Oakland Beach Real Estate Owners Association (OBREOA), claims that Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis, her husband …
In a complaint filed Tuesday in Superior Court, Debra J. Shatley, president of the Oakland Beach Real Estate Owners Association (OBREOA), claims that Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis, her husband William, and friend Beverlee Sturdahl conspired to illegally transfer property owned by the association to the couple.
The property, 735 Oakland Beach Ave., abuts the Travis property at 733 Oakland Beach Ave. The complaint also lists a “John Doe” whose identity will become known through court proceedings.
Donna Travis represents Ward 6, which includes Oakland Beach.
Donna Travis did not respond to a call or text Wednesday morning.
However, in a story reported by the Providence Journal earlier this year, Donna and William Travis defended their acquisition of the property by means of a quit claim deed on grounds they paid the property taxes and that they maintained for property for years.
They also said the association approved the transfer of ownership although there was no record of that. Donna Travis was quoted as saying newcomers had joined the association and that they were interested in acquiring the property for development.
According to the complaint, on Aug. 14, 2021, Sturdahl, acting on behalf of the association as an officer or director, executed a quit claim deed to the property.
The complaint alleges Sturdahl did not have the legal authority to convey the property and that at “no time did a majority of the members of the association vote to approve the sale, transfer or conveyance of the property.” It goes on to say the association has demanded the Travises convey the property back to the association, but they have refused to do so.
The complaints reads that the Travises “knowingly and maliciously published a defective and invalid legal instrument” that falsely claimed they held title to the property. Furthermore, it charges that Donna Travis “breached her fiduciary duty to the association and its members” and that as a result the association “will continue to incur significant and substantial losses and damages.”
The complaint alleges Sturdahl “was aware of the agreement and its unlawful purpose, concurred in carrying out the purpose and intentionally took part in and furthered this purpose.”
The complaint alleges the actions of the Travises and Sturdahl constitute felony criminal offenses punishable by fine and imprisonment in violation of Rhode Island general laws. It asks for a trial by jury and that the court grant a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing the Travises “from selling, leasing, transferring, mortgaging, hypothecating or otherwise encumbering the property.”
“I'm not giving back the property,” William Travis told the Providence Journal. “It’s not happening.”
According to Antonia Noori Farzan’s reporting posted by the Providence Journal on July 10, until recently, the 0.07-acre parcel belonged to the Oakland Beach Real Estate Owners Association (OBREOA), in which the Travises have held leadership roles.
The land in question has an assessed value of $65,700. OBREOA leaders say the transfer did not comply with its bylaws, and they want the property back, but the Travises insist everything was done legally, and that they were deeded the property in exchange for helping pay off back taxes, according to reporting in the Providence Journal