A key figure in a major Cleveland housing scam was sentenced Monday to five years in prison after an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation exposed how investors were defrauded.
CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason has announced that his office will begin reviewing a major Cleveland housing scam for possible criminal charges following an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation.
The three-part investigative series exposed how investors across the country lost millions of dollars after they said they were misled about foreclosed homes that were sold by a California based company.
EZ Access Funding recruited investors in a program it claimed would rehab foreclosed homes that could be sold for significant profit. Investors believed they were helping to revitalize neighborhood. Instead, repairs were not made and two men operating the company vanished.
At least 130 homes in Cleveland were bought by EZ Access between 2008 and 2010.
[Click here for a map of EZ Access-owned properties in the Cleveland area http://on.wews.comxTA0qQ ]
The company has refused to appear in Cleveland Housing Court and has been fined $32 million in sanctions for failure to appear. It also could owe at least $335,000 in potential building code violations and another $575,000 in back taxes never paid.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason described Michael Alexander and Marc Tow, who together operated EZ Acesss Funding, as "mortgage predators," who are taking advantage of Cleveland's distressed housing market.
"We are reviewing their conduct in our community," Mason said.
"After we are done with a thorough investigation, we are going to be able to tie them with criminal activity and when that is completed and if it is completed, and there is evidence to support it, we will present this information to the grand jury."
In another twist, Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ray Pianka received a letter that claims to be from Alexander.
The letter seemingly is a confession from Alexander saying ,"I misled all parties, diverted accounts, forged documents and accept full and complete responsibility."
It was not signed, but contained a reference to his wife apologizing for "wrecking our family's life and our future."
The letter has been referred to prosecutors.
In addition to possible criminal charges, EZ Acesss Funding, Michael Alexander and Marc Tow are named in a civil lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court regarding the EZ Access home that exploded at 2022 West 83rd St. in 2010.
The lawsuit alleges that EZ Access Funding failed to secure and maintain the property and its negligence contributed to the damage. An attorney representing The Cincinnati Insurance Company, one of the plaintiff's in the case, declined to comment.
Attorney Dennis G. Rehor told NewsChannel5 only that "the complaint speaks for itself."
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