Realtor's license revoked after fraud allegations

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An Indianapolis realtor had his real estate license permanently revoked Wednesday after allegations that included conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud.

The Indiana Real Estate Commission voted unanimously to revoke the license of David Garden and his company, Star Homes, Inc. The license had been temporarily suspended by the commission in January.

The vote comes after a complain that alleged Garden "demonstrated a continued misuse of funds including conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud, failure to remit earnest money and license renewal fraud."

Garden served as president of Star Homes and Garden Home Realty.

"We believe today's action is in the best interest of the public and sends a strong message to those who may consider taking advantage of consumers," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. "Our office will continue to work hard to protect the public and hold violators accountable."

Two complaints claimed customers paid $1,000 earnest money to Garden's company to purchase property. One of the customers later learned only $500 was required to place a bid on a HUD property and won the property with a lower offer with a different company. Another customer's offer was not accepted.

Neither customer had their earnest payment returned by Garden.

Another customer, an Indianapolis couple, signed a lease and paid a $1,000 security deposit on a rental property owned by Garden. They said they were told the home would be remodeled and in "showroom condition" by the time they moved in, but say it "smelled of dog urine and feces" and was "infested with roaches."

The couple decided not to rent the property, but their request for a refund of their deposit was repeatedly denied.

The complaint against Garden shows he failed to acknowledge pending criminal charges against him when renewed his real estate broker's license in 2009. Two years later, he renewed his license, but failed to acknowledge he had pled guilty to drunk driving charges with a prior OWI.

Garden was also ordered by the commission to pay $26,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 in restitution, plus other costs.