MO attorney general sues Bishop Tony Caldwell for house flipping - KCTV5

MO attorney general sues Bishop Tony Caldwell for house flipping scheme

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A business owner and bishop who is accused of a house flipping scam that targeted low income families took the stand Friday.

The Missouri Attorney General's office is suing the owner of Tri-State Holdings, Brandon Miller and Bishop Tony Caldwell.

None of the 22 victims were in court. One woman who says she was scammed spoke with KCTV5 at a separate location. She said she couldn't be in court because she fears for her safety.

Many families signed real estate contracts to buy houses that needed a lot of work.

“The contracts are designed to be top heavy. They are designed for people to fail," said Monica Nightengale Hawkins, one of the scam victims.

The Missouri attorney general said Tri-State and Caldwell would quickly flip homes and find new buyers to purchase homes it had already sold to other people who had stopped making payments. Many homeowners found that deeds had not been recorded in their name, offering no protection from the house being resold right out from under them.

“One of the properties he sold to me on Feb. 20 and turned around and sold it to another person three days later,” Hawkins said.

Miller and his employees are accused of preying on low-income consumers hoping to find the American dream - a house of their own at a price they could afford. Instead, they found false promises and stolen money.

"I hope the people win because they deserve justice," Hawkins said.

The office of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster Caldwell, a vocal activist and church leader, worked for Tri-State and advertised their services through his church.

In court, Caldwell told the judge he was fooled by Tri-State and wanted nothing to do with the company after complaints started rolling in.

Victims of the scam say that isn't true.

"I was lead to believe one thing and that's not the truth. The only thing I can say is beware of false prophets who are in sheep's clothing," Hawkins said.

Both defendants and an investigator for the attorney general's office spoke Friday. Defense witnesses were testifying this week.

Koster's office wants a permanent injunction to prevent both men from conducting real estate transactions. They're also seeking money for the victims.

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