Former real estate broker found guilty of forgery, theft

A former Indianapolis real estate broker has been found guilty of defrauding homeowners and renters on the city’s south side who were having financial difficulties.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday afternoon that a jury on Wednesday evening found David Garden guilty of 22 counts, including 11 counts of forgery and 10 counts of theft.

“David Garden took advantage of vulnerable individuals who were facing foreclosure of their homes for his personal profit, displacing them and renting the homes without the owners’ permission,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in a prepared statement.

Garden gained control of the properties under the false pretense of assisting homeowners in obtaining a short-sale of their home, the prosecutor’s office said. Instead, he placed tenants in the properties without the knowledge or consent of the property owners.

In one instance, Garden gained control of a home that was already in the foreclosure process and personally occupied if for about 13 months without making payments to the owners or the mortgage lender, the prosecutor’s office said.

He operated under several business names such as Star Homes Inc., Garden Homes Realty, Christian Home Realty and Five Star Realty.

Garden’s real estate license was stripped in April 2014 by the Indiana Real Estate Commission over dozens of rules violations. He was fined $26,000 in civil penalties and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution and costs.

He was charged on the felony counts in May 2014.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 25.

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