The real estate lawsuit Josh Duggar lost just seven months prior to his April 29 federal arrest was handled unethically by him and his attorneys, the plaintiff’s attorney in the case claims to Fox News.
Arkansas resident Carl Echols initially sued his own cousin, Edward L. Lewis, and 33-year-old Duggar’s company, ALB Investments LLC, in April 2019. Echols claimed he purchased an Arkansas property from Lewis for $17,500 in the early 2000s. However, Echols argued in court documents that Duggar purchased the land years later for $1,000 without his knowledge while Echols had been living at the property, maintaining it, and paying taxes on it.
A lengthy legal battle ensued, and Duggar was represented by two attorneys in the case after his first, Travis W. Story, was disqualified by a judge. Echols won the lawsuit, with the judge ordering on Sept. 30, 2020, that the plaintiff is the “fee simple owner of the property.” A title was ordered quieted and confirmed in Echols’ name.
Kesha (Chiappinelli) Zaffino, who represented Echols in the case, tells Fox News in an interview just hours after Duggar’s Thursday arrest that “nothing surprises” her when it comes to the disgraced former “19 Kids and Counting” star.
“In person, he actually seems like a normal person, but as I saw this case progress, the tactics they used were very, very unethical and definitely not Christianlike,” Zaffino claims to Fox News.
Duggar, with the help of now a third attorney, Samuel M. Martin, has filed an appeal. An appeal “can cost up to $10,000,” Zaffino said.
It’s likely to be another drawn-out legal process for Zaffino’s client. “Now because Josh appealed we’re in limbo for probably at least another year,” the attorney says.
Prior to the judgment in Echols’ favor last September, Zaffino recalled the sloppy representation and correspondence she suffered when dealing with Duggar’s second attorney, Josh Bryant, who represented him after Story’s disqualification.
“He definitely missed one hearing that he had 100% notice of,” Zaffino tells us, recalling several “phone calls, emails, and messages” having gone unanswered by Bryant.
The judge ultimately awarded Zaffino nearly $5,000 for legal services she performed ahead of Duggar’s missed hearing.
“We had to schedule a hearing to address simple issues in the case because Josh Bryant wouldn’t answer our calls or emails. We asked for attorney’s fees related to this and a hearing that Duggar and Bryant failed to attend. The judge awarded us approximately $5,000 and Josh has not paid and quieted titled in my client’s name after the no-show,” she said.
Zaffino now claims that it’s no coincidence that Duggar finds himself in yet another legal situation. Back in 2015, Duggar was accused of sexually abusing several of his sisters as well as a fifth unrelated victim.
“It’s so ironic that the family promotes themselves as Christians, but this is the most unchristian thing you can possibly do. Maybe they bought land from someone who had no right to sell it, and even if for the sake of argument he did, my client is the rightful owner by adverse possession,” Zaffino argues.
Duggar’s attorneys did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
The former TLC star was arrested in Arkansas on Thursday afternoon, an online profile from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
His charges are currently unclear, but they are on a federal rather than local level, as the US Marshals “assisted” in the arrest — indicating at least one other agency is involved. It’s unclear what the second agency is, but the Washington County Sheriff’s office told Fox News the Duggar arrest is “not our case.”
He’s being held without bail and is expected to appear in court Friday morning.
In 2019, the car dealership where Duggar worked was raided by Homeland Security in connection with an ongoing federal investigation, though it’s unclear if the raid and his arrest are connected.
Earlier the same week, it was reported that the Duggar household was also raided, though the family denied it.
Details of the federal probe have not been publicly disclosed.
Duggar’s arrest news comes days after his wife, Anna, announced the couple was expecting their seventh child together.
Reps for the Duggars and “19 Kids and Counting” home network TLC did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment, nor did Western Arkansas’ US Attorney’s Office.
Duggar’s brother-in-law Derick Dillard declined to comment on behalf of himself and his wife, Jill Duggar.