PA Attorney General Press Release - March 15, 2004
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Jerry Pappert today filed a civil lawsuit against an Allegheny County appraiser accused of grossly inflating the value of several residential properties so homeowners would qualify for home improvement or other loans. The loans are under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office in a case involving alleged fraudulent and abusive lending practices. The lawsuit investigation involves homeowners located in Allegheny, Crawford and Venango counties.
The lawsuit seeks consumer restitution, fines and a permanent injunction barring the defendants from advertising, offering for sale, selling or providing residential real estate appraisal services in the Commonwealth.
Pappert identified the defendants as Trautman Realty Inc ., 1384 Route 30, Clinton, Allegheny County, and Burton M. Trautman , individually, and as an officer of the company. The defendants are accused of violating Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and Appraisal Regulations. The Commonwealth in June 2001 filed a lawsuit against Zintron, a Pittsburgh-based home improvement contractor, and other defendants, alleging their involvement in a scheme to assist consumers in obtaining loans for home improvement projects or repairs that were not performed or completed.
Pappert said many consumers faced foreclosure or bankruptcy when they were unable to pay the loans secured by their home mortgages. The loans were written for amounts far exceeding the actual value of the properties.
According to Bureau of Consumer Protection investigators, Trautman through 2000 performed appraisal services for the following defendants named in the June 2001 lawsuit: PA Allstate Builders ; W. Timothy McKee , individually, and doing business as Zintron ; Terry Boring , also known as Jim McKee, individually, and doing business as Zintron. In addition, Trautman performed appraisals for various mortgage brokerage firms including BR Financial, CFS Home Loans Inc., and Imperial Financial owned by W. Timothy McKee. Consumers were charged between $300 and $375 for Trautman’s real estate appraisal services.
The suit against Trautman claims that the defendant prepared at least eight appraisals that were allegedly two or three times higher than what the Commonwealth claims was an accurate and realistic value.