The Herald Bulletin

February 23, 2014

Anderson real estate broker owes $180,000 in back taxes

Little progress in civil suit, criminal probe of Shoot

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Real estate broker Roger Shoot and his wife Pamela, who face a civil lawsuit after an investigation by the state attorney general's office, owe Madison County more than $180,000 in back property taxes, according to public records.

"He was already delinquent when I took office in 2011," said County Treasurer Kelly Gaskill, who expressed concern that the delinquent taxes — on properties where the Shoots are the deeded property owners — may never be paid in full.

Gaskill said an agreement was reached to repay nearly $11,000 in back taxes that were owed on one property in the 800 block of Myers Avenue. Records show that several payments were made. But "the agreement was not met," Gaskill said. As a result, the parcel was placed on last October's tax sale list.

On Oct. 4, four days before the scheduled sale, full payment was made and the parcel was removed from the sale list, she added.

Other properties, however, have been put up for sale twice. When they didn't sell, they were placed on a list for auction at a Madison County Commissioners certificate sale. Those properties are now scheduled to be offered at another commissioner sale in the spring, Gaskill said.

In addition, the Indiana Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against Shoot last April. State investigators began examining his business practices in 2012 after receiving complaints from people who had arranged to buy houses from him on contract.

The lawsuit alleges Shoot ran what it characterized as a "rent-to-own scheme," and that he failed to pay insurance premiums and property taxes as outlined in contracts, and instead pocketed the cash, according to court records.

Shoot did not return a recent phone call requesting comment about the back taxes. His attorney, David McNamar, also did not respond to an email and phone call requesting comment about the status of the attorney general's lawsuit.

The attorney general's office has also filed a complaint with the Indiana Real Estate Commission to revoke or suspend Shoot's real estate principal broker's license. Pamela Shoot is not named in that complaint.

Both cases are moving slowly through the legal system.

Several Madison County judges, including Thomas Newman, Thomas Clem and David Happe, declined to preside over the lawsuit because of a potential conflict of interest. In late June, Angela Warner Sims was appointed special judge to hear the case, according to court records.

McNamar filed a motion to dismiss the case. He argued in a June filing that the lawsuit wasn't filed against the real parties of interest and that the state demanded no remedy as required under Indiana's rules of procedures. He also asked the court to drop Pamela Shoot as a defendant in the case, contending that being married to Roger Shoot did not "make her liable under the law for acts against him," according to the filing.

Sims denied that motion, but also required the attorney general's office to file more detailed documents it relied on in the case. The state filed an amended complaint in late August, which McNamar also moved to dismiss.

Despite slow progress, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said recently that "the litigation is moving forward." However, no dates have been set to begin hearing substantive arguments.

Progress has been equally slow at the real estate commission.

The board has granted continuances at McNamar's request at least four times, most recently in December, said Sue Swayze, communications director for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Swayze said it's not unusual in a complicated case for continuances to be granted so that opposing parties can gather information.

"It's common, but sooner or later the board will say enough is enough and call the question," Swayze said. "Obviously, that hasn't happened yet." A hearing before the real estate commission is set for April 16.

After reading the civil lawsuit against Shoot in late April, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings asked the Anderson Police Department to open a criminal investigation of Shoot's business practices.

That case remains active, said Detective Joel Sandefur, department spokesman.

"We're moving forward with the investigation," Sandefur said. "Our investigation is independent of theirs," he said of the civil lawsuit.

Sandfur added that some information has been shared between police investigators and lawyers from the attorney general's office because "the essential facts are the same."

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