Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Suspected SE Michigan Land Contract Racket Leaves Would-Be Homebuyers Holding The Bag On Homes In Imminent Foreclosure, Families Facing The Boot

In Detroit, Michigan, WXYZ-TV Channel 7 reports:

  • Many are discovering what they thought was a blessing, has turned into a curse. The homes they thought they were buying are in various stages of foreclosure – and they say the man who sold them, Leonard Bale, never told them.


  • Kimberly Ostrander is a cancer survivor who thought she was buying a home where she could heal and raise her disabled son, she explains while sitting on the porch outside her house in Garden City. “I put new flooring in, put the gutters up. We put a brand new back deck on, everything,” says Ostrander.

  • Amee Ravetto has a similar story. She was happy to find a house in the Woodhaven neighborhood where she has friends and relatives nearby. She also wanted a home for her three boys in a section of town that would provide comfort and convenience. “I have friends that I’ve known since childhood that still live in this neighborhood, so it was a big deal,” says Ravetto.

  • Their stories have both a common theme and a common problem: They all signed a land contract—an agreement to make monthly payments to the owner instead of getting a mortgage loan from a bank. They say they had a land contract with Wolverine Investments, which is owned by Bale and that he didn’t tell them the truth about the properties.

  • Bale is well known in Southeastern Michigan, and now on Craigslist, as a property owner with dozens of houses to sell or rent. But, On Face book, you’ll find theLen Bale Defrauded Me” site where dozens of people complain about Bale.

  • [Homeowner Shannon] Edmonds is now worried that her family only has a few more months to live in the house she wanted to own for years to come. “Three weeks ago we got a postcard in the mail saying the house was in foreclosure,” she says. “It’s up for sheriff’s sale on the 16th of September.” Edmonds says she has no means to buy it again. “I’m going to lose my house,” she says. “I’ve put money into this house.”


  • The Action News investigators went to Bale’s half-million dollar home in Farmington Hills to ask him a few questions but no one answered the door or returned our phone calls. But at a Westside Detroit house Bale was trying to sell, we met Jeff Opperman. The buyers recognize Opperman as the man who worked closely with Bale, collecting monthly payments and dong work on Bale’s properties. Opperman would not talk to Action News.

  • Bale property buyers say they paid Bale between $5000 and $10,000 down payments.(1)

  • Jackie Antolak says she bought a home from Bale in Lincoln Park. “I moved in June 2010,” she told Action News. “End of July, beginning of August 2010, Chase Bank showed up to my door looking for Leonard Bale the home was in foreclosure, and now, I cant’s get a hold of anybody to get my money back.”

For more, see They thought they were buying homes for their families, but a dream come true has become a nightmare.

(1) If the allegations made against Bale & Opperman are true, they appear to be prime candidates for, at a minimum, criminal charges of theft by deception/theft by false pretenses and organized fraud, charges that could be brought by local and state law enforcement authorities. They could also be looking at federal conspiracy charges, as well as federal wire and mail fraud charges if they employed telephonic communications or mail delivery if the allegations of them pulling off this racket are true.

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