Homeowners could lose homes and allege theft

10:29 AM, Oct 8, 2013   |    comments
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CHATSWORTH, Ga.-- An Ellijay man is being accused by of Theft by Deception over lease purchase-agreements, and now several residents could be kicked out of their homes. 

"I expected to buy the property," said Ceairra Ngige.

She signed a lease-purchase agreement with Dan Hicks, paid 25 hundred down and paid $550 in rent for 6 months.

"And then you found out?"11Alive investigator, Ross Mclaughlin asked.

"Just last month, that he didn't really own the property," Ngige responded.

Dan Hicks was on 11Alive's radar in 2010, following our investigation into potentially hazardous FEMA trailers, being sold to unsuspecting consumers.

HOLDING THE POWERFUL ACCOUNTABLE | More 11Alive investigations

It's been two years and Hicks has not been prosecuted or gone to trial, after being indicted of Deceptive Business Practices and Theft by Deception. We wanted to know why, especially since homeowners, in police reports, have launched new allegations of theft against him. 

"This was supposed to be forever kind of place," Ngige said. 

Hicks used to own many of the manufactured homes in Ngige's Chatsworth subdivision, but that was 11 years ago. 

When we dug through Murray County court records we found lawsuits, from banks and owners, claiming Hicks had no rights to their properties. 

"This is Rick and Tina,"Ngige said, as she introduced us to her neighbors, who face the same problem. 

"Been paying for it for almost 2 years and he calls and says that he no longer owns it,"Rick Parson told us.

"My client purchased property from Dan Hicks, 4 parcels of property," said Atlanta Attorney, Marcus Keegan. 

He represented a woman who purchased 4 properties from Hicks in 2002, in that same Chatsworth neighborhood. 

In 2011, she learned there was a problem with the title when Hicks came looking for more money, claiming he hadn't been paid. 

"I do know that someone forged my clients signature on these security deeds," Keegan said. 

The suit states Hicks rented the properties and that there were 3 tenants in 3 of the 4 homes. 

Hicks signed a consent order stating:'he erroneously filed 'Deeds Under Power.' 

"He's still taking people's money, when he doesn't have a right to,"Ngige said. 

In January of 2013, the court took away Hicks claim to ownership on Ngige's house. However, in February he signed a lease purchase- agreement with her and she continued to deposit money into his account, until August. 

Ngige has now filed a police report with the Murray County Sheriff's Office, accusing Hicks of Theft by Deception and so has Rick Parson. The court has also yanked the title from Hicks on the house Parson thought he was going to purchase when signing a lease-purchase agreement with Hicks.

"He told me that if I had any questions to call his lawyer,"Parson said. 

Dan Hicks had used to have a company called DLH Investments. It was dissolved in 2008. The court ruled against him on 6 properties where he DLH had filed Foreclosure Deeds.

That's why we went looking for Hicks. We knocked on a door in Ellijay, where he used to live. Julie King answered and we showed her a picture of Hicks, asking if she had seen him. 

"I know that's him because the landlord showed me a picture of him and told me if he ever came on this property, I need to call the Sheriff,"she said.

The Sheriff in Gilmer County arrested Hicks two years ago after we investigated potentially hazardous FEMA trailers that had been tested for high levels of formaldehyde, being sold to the public. 

"I'm pissed!" Cynthia Palis exclaimed,at that time. 

She contacted 11Alive after seeing our report, claiming Hicks didn't fully disclose the facts about the trailer that he sold to her. 

Hicks was indicted. However, we wanted why he hasn't gone to trial. 

"We had a backlog. When I came into office we had over 3 thousand cases that were pending," said District Attorney Alison Sosebee, of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit.

"I ran on the premise that justice delayed is justice denied and I would certainly like the victims in this case receive justice," she said about the FEMA trailer case. 

Residents in Chatsworth also want justice and wonder how long it will take, and when they will be forced from their homes. 

We contacted the Murray County Sheriff's office who told us they are reviewing the case.

When we finally got Hicks on the phone, he was no help. He asked,"What problems?", then he hung up.  He later gave us the names of a couple of his former attorney's who had nothing to offer. 

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