Couple Convicted of Selling Florida Sinkhole Home

Florida pair allegedly sold their home without disclosing the sinkhole under it.

October 9, 2015, 6:44 PM

— -- A Florida couple is facing up to 20 years each in prison today for selling their home without informing the buyers about an enormous sinkhole that they knew was underneath it.

On Thursday, a federal jury in Tampa, Florida, decided that Glenn Jasen and wife Kathryn Jasen, of Spring Hill, Florida, were guilty of wire fraud, which is a federal felony.

Prosecutors alleged in the case that the Jasens "did detect a sinkhole" in 2009, filed a claim with their insurer and then "elected to receive a check in the amount of $153,000 but did not ever fix the sinkhole."

According to the US Attorney's Office, the Jasens deposited the insurance check into a bank account. They then failed to disclose the sinkhole in real estate documents and later sold the home to another family, according to the indictment.

In court, US attorney Tom Palermo told the jury that "the defendants put lipstick on a pig and sold it to suckers."

In July, the Jasens' lawyer, Victor Martinez, told ABC News that his clients were being singled out and should not be facing 20 years in prison. He told ABC News then that omissions or errors in home sale disclosures were typically prosecuted civilly through lawsuits.

"When they filed the sinkhole claim, they did take some monies to make remedial repairs," Martinez said.

He said that the federal indictment through wire fraud was because money had been transferred in the sale. According to the indictment, the Jasens received $64,900 for the sale of the home, which authorities say was a wire fraud scheme because money was wired from one bank to another across state lines.

In 2014, the Jasens sold the home to Kelly Magbee and her family "without disclosing the existence of the sinkhole or the previous sinkhole claim," according to court documents.

Magbee said she is now stuck paying the mortgage on a home that cannot be lived in. In July, she showed ABC News the dangerous cracks that, she said, had been caused by a sinkhole beneath her home.

She, her husband and their five children eventually had to move out after the sinkhole caused a crack down the middle of their living room.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," Magbee said. "Living here, knowing there's a hole, was probably the scariest thing I've ever done."

The Jasens are expected to be sentenced in January.

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