The Potluck

House candidate settles case alleging he swindled Cloquet woman in real estate deal 

By: - October 26, 2022 1:57 pm

The Minnesota Capitol. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

A Cloquet attorney who is running for the state House recently settled a lawsuit in which he was accused of trying to defraud a woman out of equity in her home.

Pete Radosevich, a DFL real estate lawyer and publisher of the Cloquet newspaper, Pine Knot News, says it was “a real estate deal that went bad.” He’s running in House District 11A against Republican Jeff Dotseth of Kettle River. 

Jennifer Olson sued Radosevich in 2019, alleging Radosevich devised a “ploy” to get her to sell the home to him at a deeply discounted price, depriving her of $45,000 in equity.

She said in court papers that he was hired to sell a Cloquet home she bought through a contract for deed, which means the seller financed the sale instead of a bank. 

Radosevich said there was nothing fraudulent about the deal, and that he was just trying to help Olson through a complex situation.

Olson, whose attorney did not return phone calls, bought the home from her ex-husband’s grandmother, Myrtle Olson, a 104-year-old woman living in a senior care facility, Radosevich said. The Minnesota Department of Human Services put a lien on the home in 2013 to cover the cost of Myrtle Olson’s long-term care. Radosevich was hired to handle a sale of the home to satisfy the lien.

The sale fell through.

Then, the lawsuit alleged, Radosevich “attempted to gain ownership of the property himself for the lowest possible amount of personal investment.” 

The lawsuit alleged that in conversations with Olson, Radosevich talked down the value of the home and tried to scare her into selling to him by warning her about the consequences of her missed payments. 

Olson hadn’t made a payment in three years or paid the taxes, Radosevich said in an interview. Olson offered to sell him the home for the cost of the contract for deed/lien and taxes.

Pete Radosevich is running for the House in District 11A. Courtesy photo.

According to the lawsuit, Radosevich prepared paperwork to cancel the contract for deed — telling Olson she owed more than she really did — and deed the property to himself. 

When Olson tried to undo the deeds, Radosevich responded with “misinformation and intimidation,” according to the lawsuit, culminating in an eviction action against Olson.

Radosevich said he paid Olson about $50,000 for the house, and sent a real estate agent over to see what it was worth.

When he learned the home was actually worth $90,000, he said he tried to cut Olson in on some of the money. 

“I was ecstatic: I made $30,000 in two minutes,” he said. “I was willing to share with her.”

He told Olson she’d have to pay off the contract for deed/state lien for about $50,000 within 60 days. As the deadline drew near, she hadn’t paid it “so I paid it off,” he said. The lawsuit alleged she could have paid that off at closing.

Radosevich says she never paid the state lien, so he did. Radosevich said that the case was dismissed three days into a jury trial in late September. Jennifer Olson had sought more than $50,000 plus costs and attorney fees.

Court documents indicate all parties involved agreed to dismiss the case without costs or attorneys’ fees to any party. Radosevich would only say, “I agreed not to go after them for costs.” 

Radosevich called the whole thing “embarrassing.”

“I do a lot of good work for a lot of people in this community,” he said. “It’s just nasty.”

Radosevich and Dotseth are vying for the seat previously held by Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, in a district that includes all of Carlton County and portions of Pine and St. Louis counties.

The race is likely a tossup: Sundin won the 2020 race by just 654 votes, and the new district went to President Joe Biden, with 49.2% of the vote, compared to 48.5% for former President Donald Trump, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, a redistricting simulator.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.