AUGUSTA — Richard Sukeforth sat in the Cabinet room near Gov. Paul LePage’s office Tuesday night, nibbling on a tiny crabmeat sandwich and a deviled egg and sipping yellow punch from a fancy glass cup.

The 80-year-old Albion man who lost his home last year to foreclosure and eviction seemed a little out of place in the grandeur of the room.

“This is unusual,” he said. “I don’t very often get an invitation to anything. I worked around this building in the 1960s, but I never got inside. I did hot-topping, back when they were enlarging the parking lot.”

Sukeforth, his silver cane at his side, said he was grateful and humbled to be invited to the reception before the governor’s State of the State address, in which LePage touted his efforts to help the state’s elderly and impoverished residents. LePage tried to help Sukeforth get his house back after the foreclosure, to no avail.

In December 2015, the town of Albion foreclosed on Sukeforth’s home and sold it in a sealed-bid auction. The new owner had bid $6,500 on the property – just $500 more than a Sukeforth family friend offered – and then on Dec. 29, that owner evicted Sukeforth and his wife, Leonette, also 80, as she lay sick in a hospital bed in the home.

LePage told the Sukeforths’ story in his address Tuesday in the company of Richard Sukeforth and his daughter, Yvette Ingalls, who drove him to the Capitol in a snowstorm from Holden, where the Sukeforths have lived with her in a mobile home since the eviction. Leonette Sukeforth, who suffers from diabetes and other health problems, was not well enough to attend the event, her daughter said.

Incensed by what happened to the Sukeforths, LePage is proposing legislation to prohibit municipalities from foreclosing in such cases. His bill would require steps a municipality must take before foreclosure, such as discussing a reverse mortgage, tax abatement or an agreement through which, if the homeowner has no mortgage, the municipality applies a lien on the property for taxes owed, lets the people live in the house until they die and then sells it.

Richard Sukeforth said he is touched by the governor’s support and while it is too late for him, perhaps LePage’s bill will help prevent others from meeting the same fate.

“That’s one of them deeds that was done underhanded,” Sukeforth said. “Somebody’s got to protect people a little bit. If he can help, it’s probably going to be good for the average person. You know, if it happened to me, it will happen again to somebody else. The town took a law and turned it around to suit themselves. I happened to be the turkey in the fence there, so I was easy pickings. But what comes around goes around.”

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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