Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Struggling Homebuilder Leaves Customers Up In The Air On Unfinished Houses; One Victim Says She's Out Almost $250K In Deposits, Left Holding The Bag On $200K Construction Loan, & Still Faces Foreclosures By Stiffed Subs On Unpaid Mechanics Liens; Cops Offer No Help, Say 'It's A Civil Matter'

In Medford, Oregon, KTVL-TV Channel 10 reports:
  • Sheana Wilkinson signed papers with Whittle Construction last February.

    Almost one year later, the owner told her in January he would not be able to finish the house. Wilkinson said she had saved for 13 years, and lost almost $250,000 in deposits. Soon after, her family became responsible for the construction company's loan of $200,000.

    "We were contacted by the bank in January that if we didn't assume the loan that our home was going to be foreclosed on. So in desperation to save the house we signed the papers," said Wilkinson.

    The homeowner began working with an attorney after police told her they would not be able to help.

    "He said that it's a civil matter(1) so that has to be resolved through circuit court which just means attorney fees for us and we're already more than $10,000 in attorney fees just fighting for the position that we're at right now," said Wilkinson.

    Right next door, Steve O'Neill is involved in a lawsuit with the construction company. O'Neill said this follows the owner not properly measuring the property boundary line.

    "This is a guy that had professionally built hundreds of houses. And to be so off... not just inches but four, five, six feet on varying parts of the boundary... it's ridiculous," said Steve O'Neill.

    Wilkinson said she's saving her attorney costs to fight more than $80,000 in lien fees.

    "One subcontractor has already started the foreclosure process on us. We got another intent for foreclosure from another subcontractor. And it's like...I understand that we all lost something. But they're trying to take my home away from me," she said.

    If you're interested in helping the family's GoFundMe just go to: www.gofundme.com/help-veteran-family-save-their-home. You can also reach Sheana at 541-821-5634.
Source: Families across Medford say they've been affected by Whittle Construction challenges.

In a related story, see Whittle Construction contracting license suspended, leaving families with unfinished homes.
(1) A basis for the crime of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds (or similar crime) may exist if an investigation would reveal that the homebuilder pocketed money specifically intended for the construction of one home, and diverted it to either:
  • an unrelated construction job or project, or
  • the builder's operating expenses, or
  • personal expenditures.
If the police summarily dismissed this case as a civil matter without first conducting an investigation, chances are that the police (and/or the local prosecutor's office) either:
  • don't have the resources needed to handle this case, or
  • lack the expertise necessary to be alert to the possibility of a theft crime occurring in the context of a business contract, or
  • are just clueless and are using it as an excuse to get rid of the person making the complaint.
Go here for links to examples of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds in the context of construction/home improvement contracting.

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