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Thursday, 12 July 2012

FBI, HUD investigating Fairhaven homebuilder
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Hoursing and Urban Development  are investigating whether a builder lied on HUD forms for the Fairhaven neighborhood. The agencies are looking into complaints that Pulte Homes improperly filled out builder's certification forms. There's a separate form for every house, and they're required so homebuyers can receive government-backed mortgage loans. One section of the form asks about foreseeable hazards or adverse conditions. Among the questions it asks: Does the site have inadequate surface drainage, unstable soils, excessive slopes or earth fill, and will the foundation sit on fill?
What Pulte does not want the public to see

FBI, HUD investigating Fairhaven homebuilder

By Jennifer Hiller and Zeke MacCormack

SCHERTZ — The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are investigating whether a builder lied on HUD forms for the Fairhaven neighborhood.

The agencies are looking into complaints that Pulte Homes improperly filled out builder's certification forms. There's a separate form for every house, and they're required so homebuyers can receive government-backed mortgage loans.

One section of the form asks about foreseeable hazards or adverse conditions. Among the questions it asks: Does the site have inadequate surface drainage, unstable soils, excessive slopes or earth fill, and will the foundation sit on fill?

The builder checked “no” in each box for Daniel Hollestelle's house. But Hollestelle, who has a VA loan, believes his home sits on expansive soil and fill dirt that wasn't compacted properly. “I know every one of those answers should be yes,” he said. “They didn't do the foundation to withstand the soil conditions.”

A French drain had to be installed behind his house because water wasn't draining properly. Pulte has repaired cracks in his foundation and ceiling at the Columbia Drive home he bought for $147,000 in 2008, but Hollestelle lacks confidence that the problems are resolved. He wants Pulte to buy back the house.

“They say it's fixed. I say patched,” Hollestelle said. “They need to be punished. Builders need to be stopped from falsifying federal documents.”

A Pulte spokeswoman said by email that the company stands behind its builder's certification forms, as well as the houses. Pulte has reached out to Department of Justice representatives, who had initially received the complaints and asked the FBI to evaluate.

“Representatives of our company proactively contacted and met with (Department of Justice) representatives and reiterated Pulte Homes' commitment to standing behind the quality of the homes and community of Fairhaven,” the statement said.

In June, an assistant U.S. attorney in San Antonio sent a letter asking the local office of the FBI to evaluate complaints from Fairhaven residents.

Hollestelle and several other homeowners in the neighborhood have been at odds with Pulte for months, complaining about issues such as sticking doors, cracked floor tiles and foundation cracks that slice through the center of homes.

FBI Spokesman Erik Vasys said the agency is conducting an inquiry in concert with HUD. Richard Lopez, field office director for HUD in San Antonio, also confirmed that the Office of Inspector General, HUD's investigative arm, is looking into it.

There's a statement at the bottom of the builder's certification forms: “Warning: HUD will prosecute false claims and statements. Conviction may result in criminal and/or civil penalties.”

Melinda Ruiz has a crack running from one end of her house to the other. She's had plumbing pipes break, nail pops in the wallboard, baseboards lifting off of the floor. She has sticky notes and painters tape all over the house, marking the damage and the dates. The tile in her living room has cracked and been repaired several times, and was completely replaced last October. But she heard a loud pop on Friday — two tiles in the center of the room lifted an inch off the floor.

“I want them to buy my house back so I can move on with my life,” she said. “This is just unacceptable.” 

Janet Ahmad of the group HomeOwners for Better Building, which advocates for a home lemon law, said Ruiz's home and four others immediately next to her on Storm King have had foundation damage, along with numerous others in the neighborhood. “Something has gone seriously wrong here,” Ahmad said.

Retired real estate agent Sandra Scott, who's satisfied with Pulte's repairs in the attic of her 3-year-old home on Storm King, is among the residents worried that publicity about the problems there will hurt property values.

“Most people are happy with their homes and with Pulte,” said Scott. “There's probably a dozen people who, rather than getting their houses fixed, brought in an outside organization to inflame people.”

Ahmad, Hollestelle and neighbor Donna Fitzgerald, who also wants Pulte to buy back her home, appeared before Guadalupe County Commissioners on Tuesday to update them and to rail against Schertz officials. “It's like they have no interest at all,” Fitzgerald said of city leaders.

That characterization was dismissed Wednesday by Mayor Pro Tem George Antuna Jr.

“We have done everything that they have asked us to do,” Antuna said, noting city leaders have visited the neighborhood, hosted council discussions on the issue and facilitated talks with Pulte.

“Some of these folks have a different agenda from having their home repaired; they want to implement lemon laws,” he said, noting, “The state has to do that.”

Guadalupe County Commissioner Judy Cope, who has also tried to mediate talks between residents and Pulte, said frustration is growing as problems persist.

“Any time you have a foundation that's seriously cracking, it does devalue the property. Even if it's fixed, the owners are required to disclose it if they sell the house,” she said Wednesday. “I asked Pulte Homes that, if they find a problem that is not fixable, that they do whatever it takes to make the homeowners whole again. They said they would look into it.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/FBI-HUD-investigating-Fairhaven-homebuilder-3700304.php#ixzz20RY82FtX


  byrontx 6:34 PM on July 12, 2012 You have chosen to live in a republican dominated state. That means you have no rights, its the golden rule, and they have the gold to rule. Now shush up and obey your masters. Reply (0) (1) -1

  JimmyRustle 5:19 PM on July 12, 2012 LOL.. "construction permits" in this town are an absolute FARCE.

No one actually goes out and inspects each house- as long as they pay the filing fee- they get approved and passed.
The retaining wall fiasco is a perfect example. Reply (3) (0) 3 | |

  bigdfrombigd 10:24 AM on July 12, 2012 Thank you Janet Ahmad of Homeowners for Better Building (hobb.org)
She and Trish Mattison have worked tirelessly for our community and in return have been demonised by the builders and city councils. Just pray that you will never need their help. Reply (6) (0) 6 | |

Need2WakeUp 9:42 AM on July 12, 2012
Would be a great idea if we can keep Holder out of the picture  Reply (4) (1) 3

skywatch 8:58 AM on July 12, 2012
The feds need to do something about this abuse. The GOP in Texas has shielded homebuilders from all liability suits, for all practical purposes. The consumer always loses in Texas. Reply (8) (2) 6

                 MattiandMom 9:08 AM on July 12, 2012 So True,
                         Reply  (4) (1) 3 |
                JimmyRustle 5:48 PM on July 12, 2012  
                Yeah- because the Democrats are such great champions of the masses huh?? Like King Wolff and    the bought and paid for liberal mayor and city council members?  When does the Democratic Party's treasurer go on trial for theft??

Need2WakeUp 8:40 AM on July 12, 2012
ITSDspy come on now!
You mean that you city government would not tell the truth? "THANK YOU'!
Maybe now the FBI can confiscate their PC's in the system and do a cyber audit! The results would be interesting! Reply (7) (0) 7

                 ITSDspy 9:03 AM on July 12, 2012Internal City documents show that the theft/fraud was     characterized as "a bottomless pit of money" citing the fact that "The largely unsupervised and unregulated billing of departments across the City under the guise of the telephone "variable" for the last 25 years has resulted in departments having been billed for an untold amount of goods and services from which their department received no benefit". The impact is listed as "millions of dollars".

(2) (0) 2 | |

                ITSDspy 9:04 AM on July 12, 2012 City employees/officials AGAIN violated the law when they most recently submitted false statements/audits to federal investigators admitting that they only misspent $648 of HUD funds for years 2004-8 and fail to even mention the "variable" telephone billing account, the "BOTTOMLESS PIT OF MONEY", $200,000 in padded invoices processed across state lines (mail/wire fraud), secret no-bid contracts, etc. in an effort to hide 25 plus years of criminal activity.  (2) (0) 2 |

             bigdfrombigd   I think you would find the council members playing Angry Birds during hearing of residents during council meetings rather than listen to the Fairhaven residents! (1) (0) 1

8:00 AM on July 12, 2012 No Dept Of Justice critics here today? Hmmm...
Reply (4) (0) 4

             Beardsley 9:14 AM on July 12, 2012 I don't think the whole department is broken, just the leadership. Just as I don't think the whole Air Force is broken because of the actions of a few. (2) (0) 2

  ITSDspy 7:44 AM on July 12, 2012  HUD and the FBI have another complaint – "false statements/audits" by our own City officials.
Federal investigators have been actively looking into long-term fraud/theft inside the City of SA since at least 2010 when HUD-OIG case # HL-10-0465 was initiated with the assistance of Congressman Lamar Smith. Now that documents have been discovered proving that City officials/employees presented false statements/fraudulent audits to federal investigators – a felony- in an effort to hide three decades of fraud/theft a full independent forensic audit is in order. This process may take some time BUT the persons privy to the facts should be able to acknowledge that an investigation/audit is in progress. …

You can contact HUD SA Field Office Director Richard Lopez 475-6806, City IT Director Miller 207-8301, FBI agent Martinez 225-6741 or City Auditor Barthold 207-2853 for more information.
Reply (6) (0)

Burrow 7:23 AM on July 12, 2012

The builder needs to be punished this is not the first time this builder has had major problems. There we are bigger than the homeowner attitude has to change! The public needs to stop buying there homes under the Pul*& name and the Cent%$ name too. Reply (9) (0) 9

Need2WakeUp 5:56 AM on July 12, 2012  Well they are listed on the NYSE
The Goal & Objective is $'s profit for the "bottom line" it is not "Customer Satisfaction"
#1 About time someone clams down on this runaway home construction.
#2 The home construction does not have "Inspection Points" like you automobile of any off-the-shelf product we purchase.
#3 Not to mention their carpenters, plumbers, electrician's are not from a formal vocational training program, let's say their training is OJT by another non-skilled that was also an OJT trainee.
Probably at the time those homes were constructed the main labor force was "illegal"!
#4 Homes are not built to construction specifications, they are built to blueprints that have an "approval stamp". Now if the construction cannot read and understand "english" guess what you get......Well that is what this article is about! Reply (8) (3) 5











Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/FBI-HUD-investigating-Fairhaven-homebuilder-3700304.php#ixzz20RWr9PxN

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