A former Indianapolis real estate broker was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday after being found guilty last month of defrauding homeowners and renters on the city’s south side who were having financial difficulties.
David Garden received a 24-year sentence, but 18 years were suspended. He also was ordered to pay restitution to his victims in an amount to be determined later by the court.
Garden was found guilty by a jury April 6 of 11 counts of forgery, 10 counts of theft and one count of corrupt business influence.
He was prosecuted for a real estate scam that involved 14 victims, taking advantage of homeowners facing foreclosure and potential renters. He operated as a real estate agent under several business names, including Star Homes, Inc., Garden Homes Realty, Christian Home Realty, and Five Star Realty.
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.
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.
“Many of the victims in this case were in a dire financial position,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in a written statement. "They were faced with the prospect of losing their home, and they were misled by David Garden that he would help them salvage what they could out of the home’s value. Other victims trusted Garden, who presented himself as a legitimate real estate agent, to find safe rental homes for their families. Instead, Garden took advantage of these victims, leaving them without a home and out thousands of dollars.”
Investigators said several properties he rented to individuals and families were in deplorable condition, including some that were issued vacate orders by the Marion County Superior Court. Despite the order that the properties were to remain vacant, Garden took money from renters knowing that they could never live there.