First cousin Claudie goes after Senator Fleming’s properties

POSTED: 11/22/11 7:18 AM

Validity American and French legal documents contested

MARIGOT, St. Martin – Claude Oger Fleming, a first cousin of senator Louis Constant Fleming, is contesting the ownership of several pieces of property in Marigot and in Port de Plaisance that are currently under the senator’s control.
Oger Fleming, affectionately known as Claudie, told this newspaper how his grandfather Emmanuel, a former mayor of Marigot, perished on his boat in a hurricane near St. Kitts in 1924. His eldest son, Louis Constant Fleming (the senator’s father) came back to Saint Martin to take over the reins and all of his father’s properties. Claudie’s father Etienne was Etienne’s youngest brother. He was just 12 at the time of the hurricane.
When Etienne was 21, the story goes, he transferred the rights of all properties to the senator’s father for the sum of 125,000 French francs.
When Claudie started asking questions about his grandfather’s legacy, he was given the runaround, until finally senator Louis Constant presented a handwritten document that describes all the properties, as well as a typed document dated June 23, 1933 wherein Etienne Fleming apparently gives up his rights to the estates of his mother Marie Anne Peterson, his father Louis Emmanuel Fleming and his brother Claude Adrien Fleming, in exchange for 125,000 French francs.
Claudie contests this document’s validity. His father was just 21 years of age when he apparently signed the document in 1933 in new York. There is something off with the signature, Claudie Fleming claims. Also, the document was never notarized in St. Maarten.
An added complication is that the acte de vente of July 28, 1933, the handwritten document that describes the relevant properties in the French language, also covers properties in Port de Plaisance on the Dutch side of the island.
Claudie Fleming, who is assisted in his endeavors to get his part of the properties by Norman Chester Wathey II, said yesterday that senator Louis Constant Fleming had presented him with the acte de vente to prove that all properties had come to him in a legal way and that the case was closed.
Claudie Fleming has a different opinion. In an open letter to the senator dated November 15, he stated that he brought up the matter for the first time six months ago. “This has given you ample time to come clean by dividing and sharing the Fleming estate in Saint Martin, St. Maarten, and Flat Island (Tintamarre) in two. Claudie also claims half of the revenue generated by the sale and lease of properties that “legally belonged to Claudie’s father, the later Etienne Oger Fleming.”
In the letter, Claudie also points out that the document signed in New York in 1933 was not witnessed, and that there is no verification of Etienne Fleming’s signature. He furthermore stated in the letter that the transfer of ownership of real estate has to be done before a notary in the community where the transaction takes place.
Lastly the letter reminds the senator that he had told his notary to hand over the acte de vente to Claudie, “because you did not want to be looked at as a thief.”
Claudie Fleming wants his cousin to do the right thing. But if nothing works, he will take the case to court.

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