Attorney General Todd Rokita announces legal victory against real estate fraud operation in Indianapolis
Thanks to deputies attorneys general, investigators, and Indiana Legal Services attorneys for their leadership
Attorney General Todd Rokita announced today that his office has filed two separate Assurances of Voluntary Compliance with all respondents related to an ongoing real estate fraud operation in Marion County.
“The Office of the Attorney General is pleased to have reached a settlement that will provide resolution to this matter,” Attorney General Rokita said. “This settlement ensures consumers are adequately compensated for their losses and Hoosiers are protected from the possibility of future harm.”
Attorney General Rokita thanked deputies attorney general, investigators, and Indiana legal services attorney for their leadership.
The respondents are as follows:
- Axia Holdings, LLC;
- Berkeley Asset Fund, LLC;
- Darko Ventures, LLC;
- Darko Ventures LLC-S;
- Midwest Holdings-Indianapolis, LLC;
- Ashley Heindl;
- James S. Bleier, Jr.;
- Joe D. Fall III
The respondent, James S. Bleier, Jr., who is a licensed real estate broker, faced a separate broker licensing action in connection with the alleged activities of the companies and their agents over a course of years, including, but not limited to, the following allegations:
- An alleged conspiracy by and among respondents and their agents to locate properties at risk of tax sale, create falsified heirs and heirship affidavits to obtain title, and finally the filing of a quiet title action to “wash” the title so that it could be sold free and clear of any liens or other claims to the title. In certain instances, this had the effect of disinheriting heirs to the property following the death of their loved ones. The Attorney General also obtained evidence of the alleged use of falsified or forged documents that were recorded by respondents for the purpose of obtaining the title to properties not owned by them.
- An alleged conspiracy to defraud an elderly Monroe County woman by attempting to leverage an allegedly forged purchase and sale agreement against her to force the sale of her property at a vastly reduced price compared to its market value. One of the respondents sued the woman, who was in a nursing home at the time, attempting to force her sale of the home using the fraudulent purchase and sale agreement. Thankfully, with the assistance of Indiana Legal Services attorney Carl Greci, the woman successfully defended herself from the suit and was able to maintain possession of the home.
- An alleged conspiracy to defraud an elderly Indianapolis woman who suffers from short-term memory loss by convincing her to sign a $50,000 note payable to respondent company Midwest Holdings-Indianapolis. According to evidence obtained by the Attorney General, the loan was allegedly never intended to be paid back.
- An alleged use by respondents of forged mechanic’s lien release documents in order to avoid a dispute with a former contractor – making it impossible for that contractor to collect on monies he claimed he was owed by using his forged signature on a lien release just prior to the property being sold.
Under the terms of the settlement, respondent companies agree to voluntarily dissolve. James S. Bleier, II, one of the Respondents, has agreed to the voluntary surrender of his real estate broker license within 10 days.
Respondent Ashley Heindl is subject to a seven-year prohibition from seeking licensure as a real estate broker in the State of Indiana and is likewise prohibited from drafting or negotiating documents in connection with a real estate transaction in which she is not a party.
Respondent Joe D. Fall III is likewise subject to similar restrictions for a period of 10 years under a separate Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
In addition, respondents will collectively pay $75,000 in consumer restitution to be distributed to certain victims who filed complaints with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. All the respondents denied any wrongdoing in connection with the settlements.
The Homeowner Protection Unit of the Consumer Protection Division conducted a thorough investigation into the matter and worked diligently to reach a fair and just resolution for all parties involved. The courts where the matters were filed will maintain jurisdiction for a period of two years in order to ensure compliance with the terms of the respective settlements.
“The mission of the Homeowner Protection Unit is to protect the rights of all individuals involved in the housing market, including tenants, homeowners, and aspiring homeowners, by investigating and redressing deceptive acts in connection with mortgage lending and violations of relevant state and federal laws. We strive to ensure equal access to housing opportunities for Hoosiers and promote the proper functioning of homeowner’s associations. We work closely with law enforcement agencies at all levels to ensure justice is served and homeowners and tenants are protected.”
Attorney General Rokita thanks and commends Deputy Attorney General Kelsey McKnight and Investigator Natalie Christy for their excellent work on this case.
Hoosiers are encouraged to contact the Office of the Indiana Attorney General about any suspected scams or scam attempts. Consumers can file a complaint by visiting indianaconsumer.com or calling 1-800-382-5516.