Sunnie Finkle, age 39, faces a felony charge of aggravated assault for a domestic violence incident with her former boyfriend and business partner G. T. Wilson, age 38, that Finkle swears never happened.
Wilson told Tampa police Finkle confronted her at a gas station last December, pointed a gun at him and said "you are dead."
Finkle says Wilson fabricated the entire incident and tricked Tampa police into arresting her based on the false testimony of a phony witness.
The day of Finkle's arrest Wilson told police they were married and going through a divorce.
In truth, Finkle and Wilson only pretended to get married in front of friends and family several years ago in Honduras. They had a ceremony, cake and wedding gifts but never had a marriage license.
Years later, both of them are now under investigation by the FDLE and Polk County Sheriff's Office in a separate matter involving their real estate business practices.
In deals that span at least three counties over a two year period, Finkle solicited financially distressed homeowners facing the threat of foreclosure and offered to arrange a quick short sale with a ready and willing buyer.
In most of those deals, Finkle's then-boyfriend G. T. Wilson, who ran a company called HomRes Inc, was the so-called investor. Homeowners say they had no idea Finkle and her "investor" had a personal relationship.
But instead of acquiring the properties through short sales, Wilson advertised the distressed homes in Craig's List and other sources, and rented them to tenants who thought he was the owner. Records show that Wilson only owned one home and he lost it in foreclosure.
Wilson said he was legally entitled to become the landlord and to keep all of the rent proceeds in the deals originated by Finkle because Finkle encouraged the homeowners sign an irrevocable power of attorney putting Wilson's company HomRes Inc. in charge.
In an 8 On Your Side Investigation, a number of homeowners in Pasco, Hillsborough and Polk Counties complained they had no idea that Wilson had rented their homes to tenants.
The homeowners said they didn't understand the documents they signed for the short sale would enable him to take control of their homes without investing a penny.
Wilson said the documents contained all the disclosures required by law and he wasn't trying to trick anyone.
A number of tenants told News Channel 8 they thought Wilson owned the homes and only found out later the homes were in foreclosure and Wilson's name was not on the deed.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is investigating one fraud complaint in which tenant Curt Kniffen says back in November he responded to a Craig's List ad for a "lease with an option to buy," paid Wilson $1,200 rent in advance and completed $5000 in repairs on a home in Lakeland that he later discovered was facing foreclosure and owned by a couple he'd never met.
According to a PCSO police report a Bank of America representative tried to put a lockbox on the door in March about seven weeks after Kniffen and his family moved in.
"The unknown named representative advised that the home was in foreclosure and they had no record of them living in the residence," the report says. "The former homeowners, the Hammett family, was contacted and they had no idea that the Kniffen family was living in their former residence."
The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office says it has received a number of complaints regarding Finkle and Wilson's short sales deals in that county and turned them over to the FDLE where they are now the subject of a broader state investigation.
A Pasco Sheriff's Office investigation into a short sale deal in that county ended without charges several months ago because Wilson agreed to give homeowner Peggy Vieira the rent he'd connected while it was in foreclosure.
Vieira said Monday she still hasn't received a penny from Wilson. "I haven't heard a word from him," said Vieira, "And I don't expect to."
Finkle can no longer negotiate short sales because her real estate license became "inactive" when the Broker she worked under terminated his sponsorship of her in February. Wilson sent letters to customers telling them he was voluntarily getting out of the business to pursue other interests.
Wilson is a licensed bondsman who has worked in the past at his mother's business, Abby's Bail Bonds.
Before their relationship soured last year, Wilson and Finkle used their considerable communication skills to get homeowners and tenants to sign dozens of real estate deals. Prior to that, they even organized public seminars about mortgage rescue tactics until the state ordered them to cease and desist.
But lately, Finkle and Wilson have nothing to say about their personal fallout or the business practices detailed in an 8 On Your Side Investigation that have now drawn the attention of criminal investigators in two law enforcement agencies.
Wilson wouldn't say a word about her aggravated assault arrest or her business ventures at her arraignment last week.
G. T. Wilson was similarly tight-lipped. "No comment," said Wilson as he left the courthouse with an unidentified female companion in tow.
Finkle departed through a separate exit.
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