Thursday, April 14, 2016

Indianapolis Jury Hammers Ex-Real Estate Agent w/ 20 Convictions For Duping Financially Strapped Homeowners Into Signing Over Title To Homes In Exchange For False Short Sale Promises, Then Leasing Out Properties To Unsuspecting Tenants, Skimming The Rent While Stiffing Banks Out Of Mortgage Payments

In Indianapolis, Indiana, The Indianapolis Star reports:
  • A former Indianapolis Realtor accused of defrauding financially strapped homeowners has been found guilty of more than 20 crimes, including corrupt business influence and several counts of theft and forgery.

    A jury convicted David Garden, 58, [] after a three-day jury trial in Marion Superior Court.

    Prosecutors said Garden victimized several Indianapolis homeowners who were facing foreclosure and other financial difficulties. The Indianapolis man persuaded unsuspecting homeowners to sign over their property titles to him, leaving them holding the mortgage on houses they no longer owned. Garden advised them to move out, telling them he would arrange a short sale with their bank. Instead, he rented their homes and kept the money for himself, prosecutors said.

    In some cases, Garden convinced homeowners that filing for bankruptcy was in their best interest. But doing so only removed their properties from sheriff's sales and allowed Garden to keep tenants in the homes and collect payments.

    In one instance, Garden lived in one property for more than a year without the owner's knowledge.

    Some of the properties that Garden rented out were in deplorable condition, prosecutors said. In a previous interview with IndyStar, one tenant who was paying Garden $650 a month in rent and thought she would own the house in two years as part of a rent-to-own agreement said constant flooding caused the wooden floor to rot.

    Garden operated under several business names, including Star Homes Inc., Garden Homes Realty, Christian Home Realty and Five Star Realty, according to the Marion County prosecutor's office.

    Garden was arrested after a two-year investigation by the prosecutor's office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The Indiana attorney general's office had received 45 consumer complaints against Garden.

    Garden is scheduled for a sentencing hearing May 25.

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