Thursday, October 12, 2006

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Attorney General Abbott Obtains Injunction Against Mobile Home Scammers Evading Justice

SAN ANTONIO - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has obtained a stringent temporary injunction and asset freeze against two men who have been evading justice since March, yet continue to victimize prospective consumers interested in owning manufactured homes. Trial is set for Feb. 12.

Andrew and Edward Huizar operated A&E Investments using the license for the business known as Sweet Homes, formerly owned by David Barroso, a third defendant who remains at large in Nevada after surrendering his retail license to sell homes in Texas. Barroso entered into a management contract with the Huizars. After dissolving their partnership in September 2004, all three have continued to operate separately – and unlawfully – under various names such as Harper Enterprises and Dilley Mobile Homes, leaving still more victims.

Media links
Texas Attorney General's temporary injunction
against the Huizar brothers and David Barroso

“Our San Antonio regional office, working with investigators from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, has managed to hit these bad actors with a court-ordered injunction,” said Attorney General Abbott. “This will deprive them of any further ability to take hard-earned money from innocent consumers dreaming of home ownership, leaving them instead with title problems and unpaid taxes. Bit by bit, we are eradicating these black market operators in Texas and giving scammed homeowners a measure of justice.”

The Attorney General’s San Antonio Consumer Protection office sued several defendants last March, these three men among them. The suit targeted unlicensed retailers the Huizars, Barroso, and Mario Montalbo and Anna Saenz. The latter two operated Diamond Homes in San Antonio.

This suit, naming the Huizars and Barroso, alleges these parties provided consumers with faulty titles and left behind many consumers with debts for unpaid taxes and other liens, which, by law, should have been paid by the Huizars and Barroso. Consumers later learned their titles were defective when they discovered these outstanding liens and taxes. At least one defendant, Edward Huizar, has continued to exploit consumers under false pretenses. Andrew Huizar has still not paid off all victims he scammed, as promised, and Barroso allegedly fled with money belonging to his financier, leaving yet another trail of victims.

Barroso agreed to allow the Huizars to manage his licensed manufactured home business known as Sweet Homes in San Antonio. This gave the Huizars an unlawful air of legitimacy, and they soon began selling homes from this location under their own unlicensed business name of A&E Investments. The Huizars also began pocketing many of the illicit sales proceeds, allegedly without paying Barroso an agreed-upon share of net profits, according to Barroso’s previous statements.

The Huizars, meanwhile, stated that Barroso had reneged on his original agreement with them and began demanding a much larger share of net profits, even though the brothers absorbed many losses they believe should have been absorbed by Sweet Homes.

The ensuing dispute caused their business arrangement to crumble, but left many would-be homeowners adrift with no title to homes they had purchased, with missing or defective appliances, with needed repairs left undone and with thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes or dealer proceed liens that were not disclosed by the Huizars.

These unlicensed retailers sold many homes using a “bill of sale” instead of a proper title known as a “Statement of Ownership and Location,” which must be filled out completely and registered with the Manufactured Home Division of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. This document serves as the official Texas record of home ownership.

Today’s action freezes the defendants’ bank accounts with the intent that there will be sufficient funds for the defendants to refund all monies due to consumers, while shutting down their business practices to prevent further harm to consumers. The defendants must reveal all businesses currently involved with them in pending sales transactions, including the names of mortgage or finance companies, as well as serial numbers of the associated manufactured homes.

The Attorney General also seeks a court order to authorize the Manufactured Home Division to issue clear titles to all consumers who have been unable to obtain titles because of the defendants’ deceptive practices.

The Attorney General also requests civil penalties of $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and attorneys’ fees.

Consumers who believe they have been misled by such businesses may file a complaint with the Attorney General online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call toll-free at (800) 252-8011.