Call 6 Investigation: Land Contract Buyers At It Again

Men Leave Homeowners With Big Legal Fees, Bad Credit

Two men who buy homes under land contract but skip out on the payments after a few months have been looking for homes again, according to alleged victims who contacted Call 6 For Help.

Joseph L. Stanley and business partner Steven Harris, who both own Spectrum Property Corp., would prefer people not know they are house hunting, Call 6's Rafael Sanchez reported.

Call 6 has been following Stanley and Harris' activities since late summer 2006 and recently found them on Indianapolis' northwest side, where they were being forced from a home.

"Why don't you go to hell, you stupid (expletive)," Stanley told Sanchez in that encounter.

"Your mammy should have strangled you with your umbiblical (sic) cord at birth so you wouldn't be here," Harris said.

Sheila Stiles is one of more than a dozen people who told 6News that Stanley and Harris should be in jail.

Stiles said she met them while selling her son's home. Spectrum offered to buy the home using a land contract, the same proposal they've offered many homeowners.

Under such a deal, the men promise to make monthly payments until a final lump sum payment completes the sale.

In Stiles' case, Spectrum made just one payment, forcing the house into foreclosure. The Stileses said they are still waiting for Stanley and Harris to pay nearly $14,000 in penalties for not living up to their contract.

"Criminal charges need to be brought against them," Stiles said. "I'd just like to know how could you do people like that."

Donn Treese asked the same question in Delaware County. He sold a condominium in Indianapolis to Joe Stanley in 2003.

Stanley paid only $680. It took Treese four months through the court system to get his property back, and Stanley refuses to pay nearly $12,000 in court ordered damages.

"We're quite upset that this situation continues and is not yet being taken care of," Treese said.

Stanley didn't want to talk to Sanchez during their encounter in Indianapolis. He hid inside a portable storage unit.

"You are interfering with my privacy. Get the hell away from me," Stanley said. "Get the (expletive) away from here. I'm tired of your (expletive)."

According to a Call 6 investigation, the owners of 30 properties were left with stacks of legal fees or ruined credit histories after dealing with Stanley and Harris over the last 14 years.

As a result of several court battles, there are $326,639.98 in judgments combined against the men and their companies.

In some cases, the men move into the homes and live for free while the courts often take months to evict them. In other cases, they have tenants move into the homes.

Spectrum keeps the rent and, according to homeowners, the company rarely pays what's owed on the property. That means the original homeowner gets stuck with a financial mess.

Call 6 brought the men's activities to the attention of the Marion County prosecutor's office in November 2006.

"In and of itself, it's not a crime," deputy prosecutor David Wyser said. "It's just a breach of contract."

The prosecutor's office confirmed an ongoing grand jury investigation into a possible pattern of abuse.

Jeremy Tucker is the latest to deal with Harris and Stanley. Harris and Stanley lived in his condominium, and Tucker said they didn't make any monthly payments.

"Living for free was not part of the deal. I think that it's their purpose, their plan, to go out and seek out people to take advantage of."

Tucker needed two court orders to force the men out of the home.

Also: Dealt With Joseph Stanley, Steven Harris Or Spectrum Corp.? E-Mail Call 6