Couple charged with fraud in case of undisclosed sinkhole under Spring Hill home
BARBARA BEHRENDT Tampa Bay Times
The couple were arrested last week and posted bail. Each faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charge. He is 64; she is 63.
The Jasens are accused of making a sinkhole claim on their home on Kimball Court in 2009 and pocketing the $153,745 in claim money they received through Citizens Property Insurance Co. rather than repairing the sinkhole and the home, according to the federal case file.
At some point between the finding of the sinkhole and 2014, some cosmetic repairs were made to the house, according to court files. The Jasens decided to sell the property in 2014, and a buyer stepped forward to make the purchase. As part of that process, in February 2014, Glenn Jasen filled out a seller's disclosure form, initialed each page and then signed at the end.
The purpose of the form is to tell buyers about any defects, problems or issues with the property, and it includes questions about whether the seller knows of any sinkholes or claims related to sinkholes on the site.
"On each of these material questions, Jasen falsely and fraudulently answered questions in the negative, indicating that he was aware of no sinkholes or sinkhole claims related to the property he was selling,'' according to the narrative in the file.
Relying on the answers given during the transaction, Fifth Third Mortgage Co. gave a $60,069 mortgage loan to the buyer. Part of the agreement was that the buyer could obtain insurance. But after the March 2014 closing and after the couple who bought the home moved into it with their five children, they went to Citizens Insurance to obtain a policy.
A representative inspected the property and in April 2014 canceled the policy. The home buyer learned later "that the policy had been cancelled because of the earlier detection of the unrepaired sinkhole beneath the property.''
In January, the owner's above-ground pool popped, losing its water. A cone-shaped depression could be seen below it. Then in March, the family heard a large cracking noise in their living room one night and found that the floor had started to bow. When they moved the carpet, they found a crack running across the floor and across the house.
The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III, and it basically is a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law.
"The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is committed to investigating financial crimes that personally impact the citizens of the State of Florida. We will continue to work with the prosecutorial team to bring these criminals to justice," Special Agent in Charge Rick Ramirez of the Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center said in a news release.
The case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.
The Jasens face a hearing and arraignment on Aug. 4.