The Indiana attorney general's office Tuesday responded to an effort to have its civil lawsuit against prominent local real estate broker Roger Shoot dismissed.
Shoot's attorney last month filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which is a customary first response defendants make in such civil cases.
In the filing, David McNamar argued the lawsuit was not filed against the real parties of interest, and that the state demanded no remedy as required under Indiana rules of procedure.
He asserted the attorney general's action "seems to be for his office's benefit only for costs and fees and of no benefit to the persons who he alleges suffered losses."
McNamer also argued that Pamela Shoot (Roger Shoot's wife), should be dropped as a defendant because simply being married to him "does not make her liable under the law for acts alleged against him," according to the filing.
Laura Turner, an attorney for the attorney general, countered that the state's lawsuit contained a clear request for the court to bar Shoot from committing any deceptive act where real estate actions are concerned, require restitution to be determined at trial, as well as court costs and civil penalties.
Turner also argued that one of the principal duties of the attorney general's office is providing consumer protection and regulations and intended to guard against deceptive practices.
Turner also rejected the idea of dismissing Pamela Shoot as a defendant, noting that she is an owner and member of her husband's company. Moreover, she was a signatory on the bank account where consumer money was deposited, which the state alleges was used to pay for personal expenses.
In April, the Indiana attorney general’s office filed a civil lawsuit against Shoot in Madison Circuit Court 6, alleging that he ran a “rent-to-own scheme.” According to court filings, Shoot failed to pay insurance premiums and property taxes as outlined in contracts, and pocketed the cash instead.
The attorney general also filed a separate complaint with the Indiana Real Estate Commission to revoke or suspend Shoot’s real estate principal broker’s license, and Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings directed the Anderson Police Department to open a criminal investigation into Shoot’s business practices.
The attorney general’s office began investigating Shoot more than a year ago, after receiving a complaint from one of his rent-to-own buyers, Stacey Carnahan.
That complaint led investigators to focus on four properties Shoot managed or owned, and five consumers who entered into contracts with Shoot’s firm, P.R. Properties.
According to the filings, Shoot allegedly collected and then pocketed more than $9,200 from those buyers. The money was supposed to be earmarked to pay insurance premiums and property tax payments.
He allegedly used the money — which should have been held in special trust accounts — for personal expenses at pharmacies, restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations, according to the attorney general’s complaint.
In four real estate transactions specifically detailed in the lawsuit, Shoot was the deeded owner of the properties but failed to record his ownership interest to “conceal and misrepresent the true deeded owner of record” for the properties, according to the filings.
State authorities are seeking an injunction and restitution, court costs and civil penalties.
A hearing on the status of Shoot’s real estate broker license is set for July 24, according to Jeanette Langford, director of the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. The criminal investigation is ongoing.
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