Tonight we conclude our Special Troubleshooter Reports on convicted felon and Portland businessman Fred Rich.
After repeated attempts over the past 4 months to contact him for a comment on our stories, his attorney emailed us a response. His attorney tells us Mr. Rich relied on state law that permits a homeowner to sell a house and owner-finance it to the buyer.
The email came from Austin attorney Jason Ray representing Rich. He writes in part that Rich "vigorously denies any allegations of wrongdoing."
And further "every home buyer was aware of the sale terms for their home, and every loan was legal and appropriate."
We began our special reports with Jesse and Thelma Lopez telling us about their experience buying a home from Rich. Now they're suing him for fraud.
Attorney Ray writes Rich continues to "work through attorneys...to address whatever problems the buyer believes Mr. Rich has caused."
We've reported that the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending has fined Rich, his wife, and daughter $2.5 million dollars and ordered them to immediately stop their seller-financed residential mortgage transactions because, according to the Order, they are unlicensed. And because they are unlicensed, they are limited to 5 transactions annually. Rich has till December 11th to appeal.
Attorney Ray writes that Rich looks forward to demonstrating that "he has not violated the law." In gathering information for our special reports on Rich, we've learned he owns hundreds of properties in Nueces and San Patricio counties.
His former accountant Coleen Walker told us Rich preys on people who aren't knowledgeable about buying a home or don't speak English.
We've confirmed Rich spent time behind bars after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering in 2006 in an unrelated case. Last week an Aransas Pass family showed us why they believe Rich forged their signature.
Many of you continue sharing stories about your experiences with Fred Rich on our website. They include comments like "a felon preying on families...he burned me...and needs to be closed down for good."
We encourage you to continue submitting them to us. We are interested and will be sure to let you know what happens next as this story moves forward.
We will also continue trying to speak with Fred Rich on camera, to give him an opportunity to give us his side of these stories.
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