A former Indianapolis real estate broker was charged Wednesday with numerous felony counts for allegedly defrauding homeowners and renters who were having financial difficulties.
The Marion County prosecutor’s office said David Garden gained control of local properties under the false pretense of assisting homeowners in obtaining a short-sale of their home.
Garden, the prosecutor said, showed a “pattern of racketeering and defrauding homeowners and potential renters out of money and real estate on the city’s south side.”
He was charged with corrupt business influence, 11 counts of forgery and 15 counts of theft.
“This was a lengthy investigation by deputy prosecutors in cooperation with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives and the Office of the Attorney General,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry in a prepared statement. “The accusations encompass a significant period of time and number of victims. However, we believe there are additional victims, and we encourage any individuals who believe they may have been victimized as homeowners, renters, or potential renters to contact our office.”
According to the charges, Garden targeted homeowners facing severe financial difficulties or imminent foreclosure action. He’d persuade the homeowners to transfer ownership to him and move out so he could sell the property. Instead, he’d rent the homes to others and keep rental payments for himself.
“In one instance, Garden gained control of a property that was already in the foreclosure process and occupied that property for approximately 13 months without making payments to the deeded property owners or to the mortgage lender,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Garden, who has operated businesses under the names Garden Realty, Five Star Realty, Garden Homes Realty and Star Homes, was cited by the city last month for numerous code violations. The city said he owns 15 single-family rental properties.
Garden’s real estate license was stripped by the Indiana Real Estate Commission in April over dozens of rules violations. He was fined $26,000 in civil penalties and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution and costs.
Garden was in Marion County Jail on Wednesday and faces an initial hearing Thursday morning.