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CHICAGO (WFLA) – A fifth person was arrested in connection to a sinkhole real estate fraud case first exposed by an 8 On Your Side investigation.
Anthony “Tony” Temes was arrested in Chicago. He was the mortgage broker in a home sale in 2015 in Spring Hill. The property had undisclosed sinkholes.
Temes was charged with scheme to defraud and insurance fraud. Bond was set at $50,000.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement alleged Temes approved the loan for the buyers even though the home did not have homeowner’s insurance. The home did not qualify for insurance because the sinkhole history was discovered.
No one involved in the sale told this to the buyers, Adam and Victoria Cooper. FDLE alleged the buyers were misled.
RELATED: Family who owns home reacts to arrests
RELATED: Sellers, real estate agents arrested
The sellers had previously received a $155,000 insurance settlement to stabilize the home. Instead, they sold the home, without disclosing the damage.
Pasco County Sheriff’s Office
Last week, FDLE arrested the sellers and two real estate agents. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement allege that both real estate agents knew about the sinkhole activity and conspired to keep that information from the Coopers.
At the time of the sale, Temes worked for Midwest Equity Mortgage.
Arrested last week were the sellers, Clarence and Mary Surrena, of Seminole County, and real estate agents, Shawn Poole, of Spring Hill, and Karen Sherwin, of Port Richey.
They were charged with organized scheme to defraud relating to the sale of a home with sinkhole property damage.
During the investigation, agents found that Clarence and Mary Surrena sold their home at 18735 Bonnie Drive, Spring Hill, in Pasco County, to a couple for $275,000.
The Surrenas did acknowledge filing a sinkhole claim; however, they did not reveal the claim was paid. Although the Surrenas received $155,000 in October 2013 to fix the sinkhole, the money was not used for that purpose, FDLE said.
Karen Sherwin & Shawn Poole
Sherwin, the Surrenas’ realtor, and Shawn Poole, the buyers’ agent, were aware of the insurance claim and the incomplete Seller’s Disclosure Form.
The Coopers still live in the house and fear the worst could happen.
“When we see news reports of homes falling into sinkholes, we are terrified,” Victoria Cooper said.
But leaving right now is not an option. The Coopers are a family of eight and don’t have the money to buy another house without selling this one.
This is a developing story. 8 On Your Side’s Shannon Behnken will have an update on this investigation tonight at 5.
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