Newsflash: Need some serious legal advice.

I’ve got one hell of a problem. About 4-5 years ago, my cousin’s boyfriend approached her about knowing anyone with decent credit who could help him out take a loan out through his real property, an apartment complex he owned at the time in Chicago.Their plan was to have me put my name on the deed as the owner so we could take a loan out, repair the complex, then sell it and my name would be clear. In return, they would pay me several thousand for my cooperation and troubles. They also operated a club out of the west side of Chicago so I thought he seemed responsible enough. I didn’t know much back then about personal finances and its effects and consequences. I was in a financial rut back then and was desperate to get some extra cash in my hand.What we knew was that the apartment complex was paid off so we stupidly thought there was nothing that could go wrong. I didn’t account for taxes, code violations, and utilities and well you can probably see where this is going. They broke up while I was in California. We met once again in late 2014 or early 2015 with a woman who was trying to process the sale and that was the last time I saw him.He never acquired the loan, fell behind on the property taxes, code violations started piling up. Tried to sell it as is but he had trouble trying to acquire a reliable buyer (this was when the aforementioned second meetup took place). He was disassociated from the issues by default and threw me under the bus. I have never seen the property, only my cousin has. I don’t recognize myself as the owner. She and I both were screwed over by him. He lost the club and she was left with a lot of bills as well. Eventually the City of Chicago said enough is enough and sold the property to pay off the delinquent taxes in 2016. I don’t even know what happened to the tenants. We thought the storm was over, she maintained some contact with him, business only.At the time of all this, I was dealing with a lot of financial, career issues, as well as my girlfriend’s health problems and largely put this issue on the backburner. I ignored a lot of the mail. I know it sounds bad, but I considered my problems bigger, and still hoped he’d rectify this.The calls and the mail all stopped when the house was sold last year. I figured everything was done but a couple of weeks ago, I got a bill in the mail from a Chicago law firm working for (IIRC) the City of Chicago’s Water Dept. They were asking for payment. I contested the amount. Told them I never owned Chicago property in Chicago. Well that’s when they got extremely serious. Went from collection request to an order to attend a court hearing. They were demanding payment of $13.5K. I was unable to go due to work.I have less than two weeks to contest this in writing as of today. My ignorance led me to be used in one of the worst ways possible, financially. I’m not good with legal proceedings of this nature. Naturally, I have many questions I was hoping the Reddit community could help me with:Is there anything I can do? If I can speak to a lawyer, what kind should I search for? Should I file for identity theft? Would cooperating with the City of Chicago or their law firm help?My financial situation is not perfect but a lot better these days yet this bad decision continues to haunt me. Any advice is greatly appreciated. One last thing, my cousin told me that he would call me which he has yet to do, And that he was sorry. I texted him two days ago, no response. I was planning on calling him today so I can know definitively if he is willing to cooperate or not.



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