Investigators Probe Two Accused Of Not Paying For Homes
9:02 AM, Dec 1, 2006
The following is a transcript of a story that 6News aired during its 6 p.m. newscast on Wednesday. It is a follow-up to a story that was aired on Tuesday.Martha Weaver, 6News anchor (in studio): "The Marion County prosecutor's office is now investigating two Indianapolis men and their real estate business after a Call 6 investigation. Our team uncovered a pattern running more than 12 years. Lawsuit after lawsuit, the same complaint. As Rafael Sanchez explains, they promised to buy a home, and then they didn't pay a dime -- sometimes with devastating results."
Steve Kuhn, a homeowner (talking to Call 6 for Help reporter Rafael Sanchez as story begins): "It almost put me into a mental breakdown -- a nervous breakdown -- and financially just devastated me for a period of three years. Angry? Yes."
Rafael Sanchez, Call 6 for Help reporter (narrating): "Steve Kuhn is unforgiving when he talks about the two men he says nearly cost him everything -- Steven Harris and Joseph Stanley."
Kuhn (to Sanchez): "I hold a real estate license. If they can scam me, they can scam anybody."
Sanchez (narrating): "Eight years ago, Kuhn agreed to sell two of his rental properties to Spectrum Property Corp. on land contracts. Court records show Harris and Stanley signed the deal, agreed to monthly payments, and started collecting rent from the tenants already living in the homes. Kuhn never got paid."
Kuhn (to Sanchez): "Their scam is, they promise to pay you, but they don't."
Joseph Stanley (to Sanchez): "We do not engage in deliberate scams or perpetrate this kind of thing. It is not inherent in our nature."
Sanchez (narrating): "We had questions for Joseph Stanley and Steven Harris moments after they were evicted from the home of their latest victim. In all, Call 6 uncovered 16 lawsuits filed in Marion County involving 22 properties over 12 years."
Sanchez (to Stanley): "Dating back to 1994, people have complained about this."
Stanley (to Sanchez): "One day, you, Rafael, something is going to crash-land on you, and you are going to be in front of a camera. And you are going to be held to account."
Sanchez (to Stanley): "But I am trying to hold you to account."
Stanley (to Sanchez): "But you are not."
Sanchez (narrating): "Over and over, Harris and Stanley lost every case involving a home they bought and rarely paid for. And we could not find a single case where they'd actually paid the court-ordered cash judgment."
Stanley (to Sanchez): "Your time will come when you will be hit by an avalanche of situations that are going to come back around to you, because you are a parasite."
Sanchez (to Stanley): "You know what, when that avalanche comes, I hope it's not with 15 people who are owed all this money."
Sanchez (narrating): "So far, no one has been able to make them pay."
Stanley (to Sanchez): "The judgments are not justified, and I'm not paying for something that's not justified."
Sanchez (narrating): "Several people took their complaints to the Marion County prosecutor's office. Home sellers tell us they were advised their individual problems were civil disputes. The prosecutor's office says it does not have a system that tracks individual complaints. But we wanted to know if, together, all of these complaints form a criminal pattern. Now grand jury investigators are checking to see if charges will be filed in criminal court."
Kuhn (to Sanchez): "They are two people who take advantage of a bad situation. They don't care. They never have, and they probably never will until someone puts them behind bars."
Sanchez (narrating): "Val Ramos has been locked out of his home for seven months after agreeing to sell it to Stanley and Harris. They never paid him."
Valdemar Ramos (talking to Joseph Stanley and Steven Harris, at Ramos' house): "It's not your property. You don't own it. You never went to closing. It's not yours."
Sanchez (narrating): "Much to his frustration, state consumer protection laws don't cover these home-buying disputes. And police called to resolve such problems can't help, either."
Police officer: "Our hands are tied because it's not a criminal matter."
Sanchez (to Stanley): "When will this conclude for these people?"
Stanley (to Sanchez): "I don't care about what's going on with those people."
Sanchez (in studio): "Call 6 also found that Stanley and Harris, individually and together, have used at least five business names. We've posted all those names on TheIndyChannel.com. Land contracts are a legal way to buy a home, but experts tell us buyers using a land contract often can't obtain financing any other way like through a bank, so make sure you run a credit check. Also, ask the buyer for a personal guarantee -- that would allow you to go after their assets if they don't pay. We'll keep you posted on this ongoing investigation."