Dirty tricks

Low humidity and highs in the low 80s today. Another winner tomorrow.


Some companies are striking it rich by exploiting poor, lead-poisoned blacks in Baltimore and elsewhere, according to a heartbreaking Washington Post investigation.

Here’s what happens: lead-poisoning victims, stuck with cognitive impairment, medical issues, and lifelong unemployability, may win large settlements against their offending landlords. The settlements are structured to pay out over decades, providing an economic safeguard for victims. Companies like Bethesda-based Access Funding hunt down victims and persuade them to sell their structured settlement in exchange for a lump sum. The pitch is usually that a large influx of cash could be used to buy a house or pay off a debt – but the lump sum is often way below the value of the settlement, cheating victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mentally-impaired victims aren’t fully aware that they’re selling their settlement for pennies on the dollar – and when the lump sum is gone, they’ll be left with nothing. Freddie Gray and his sisters sold their structured settlements worth $435,000 ($280,000 in present-day value) to Access Funding for just $54,000.

How is this legal? Maryland has laws that are supposed to prevent this kind of exploitation, but Access Funding and other companies have found loopholes, like not-so-independent “independent legal advisors” for victims, and shopping for judges outside of the city that wouldn’t give a sale agreement too much scrutiny. Access Funding is facing several lawsuits from victims that felt cheated out of settlements.


Maybe this will help, a little. Baltimore will receive $3.7 million in federal funding to remove lead and other toxins from hundreds of homes. The grant to the city is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Four teenagers, aged 14 to 16, were stabbed during a fight in southwest Baltimore’s Morrell Park neighborhood. One of the minors was critically injured.


The Baltimore Men’s Detention Center is closed for good, after the last detainees were moved out yesterday. Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan announced an immediate closure of the decaying facility, which was holding over 700 inmates. During the closure, attorneys for inmates have complained that they were having trouble finding where their clients ended up.


The Orioles are back under .500, after a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals. The O’s have dropped six games in a row, their worst streak of the season.