United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley III announced that a federal jury found Spring Hill residents Glenn and Kathryn Jasen guilty of wire fraud. The sentencing hearings are scheduled for Jan. 11, 2016. They were indicted on July 15, 2015.
According to Bentley, testimony and evidence presented at the trial found that the Jasens discovered a sinkhole beneath their home in Hernando County in 2009 and made a claim to Florida-owned Citizens Property Insurance. Citizens offered the Jasens either a check to compensate for their losses or mitigation of the sinkhole.
Rather than having Citizens repair the developing sinkhole, the Jasens instead chose to receive a check for $153,745.37 – but they kept the money. Instead of repairing the sinkhole, they made only cosmetic repairs to the house.
In 2013, the Jasens listed the home for sale but kept the sinkhole a secret. On a required Florida real estate disclosure form, the Jasens denied any knowledge of a prior sinkhole or sinkhole claim.
The home ultimately sold to a family with five children. They also turned to Citizens Insurance for coverage, but it was denied after an inspection due to the ongoing sinkhole problem. Citizens canceled their policy, but the family continued to live in the home.
In March 2015, the family heard what sounded like a car crash in the earth beneath their house. They discovered a crack running across the floor of the house and immediately evacuated.
This case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.
© 2015 Florida Realtors®
Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.
NOTE FROM JOHN ELWELL: This happened in the county just north of me in Florida. You NEVER hide material defects from buyers. Even if you are selling your home "as is, with right to inspect, for the convenience of the seller". It is not like selling a used car where the rule seems to be "buyer beware". When you sell your homes, you still have to disclose problems. No sweeping up evidence of termites, putting furniture over a soft spot in the floor, or painting over ceiling stains when roof repairs have not been made. Don't take that chance! If down the road the buyers find out you were less than honest about your home, you could have problems that will be way more serious and costly than making needed repairs. So disclose, disclose, disclose to prospective buyers and to your real estate agent.