SPRING HILL,FL (WFLA)-Federal marshals arrested a husband and wife today and indicted them on wire fraud charges, alleging they lied about a sinkhole to prospective homebuyers.
This comes after an 8 on your side investigation into the sale of their Spring Hill home. Glenn Jasen and his wife, Kathryn, appeared in Federal Court Thursday afternoon at their bond hearing. The prosecutor told the judge he will likely offer Kathryn Jasen a deal to work against her husband. That means the couple now need a second attorney to represent her.
Our 8 On Your Side investigation discovered Jasen received a hefty insurance payout for a sinkhole, but didn’t fix the sinkhole. Instead, he pocketed the money and sold the house. Problem is, he lied on real estate disclosure forms, checking “no” on questions about sinkhole damage. Lying on disclosure forms is against the the law.
“Suddenly this false statement takes on a life of it own and before you know it the (defendant) is looking at time in the federal penitentiary,” Martinez said.
Martinez says home sellers lie all of the time. When caught, they usually face a civil lawsuit, not 20 years in prison. Jasen’s case is the first of its kind. But law enforcement vows they’ll be more. State and local investigators are working several cases. Martinez says federal judges shouldn’t be bothered with real estate cases that take away from more serious crimes. And if prosecutors are going to go after these types of cases, consumers should be warned of the consequences of lying on disclosure forms.
“It isn’t a mortgage loan application,” Martinez said. “It isn’t an IRS return. There’s no notice that you’re signing under any kind of criminal penalty, and in fact, there are statements in the disclosure form that says the buyer can’t rely as a warranty as to any of the disclosures.”
Fighting the charge comes with a big risk, though. Martinez says the federal prosecutor has threatened to also charge Jasen’s wife with a crime. She signed all the same paperwork Jasen did. Martinez says the federal government did not originally charge her, in hopes that would convince Jasen to plead guilty.
“She is basically saying, ‘”Look, I’ve been married to you for 42 years, I’m standing behind you; If they end up indicting both of us because you fight the matter or file a particular motion, so be it,” Martinez said.