Local

Sam Haley heads to jail in foreclosure scam

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The man behind a foreclosure scam gave a public apology in court, then went to jail for ripping off dozens of people desperate for homes.

Police uncovered the scam when a homeowner found someone living in her house. Prosecutors say Sam Haley is a scam artist who's still trying to scam people. But Haley claims he's just a military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Haley was expecting leniency in court because of his military service, and the mental troubles he says he's suffering. But while the judge acknowledged Haley's PTSD, he said that wasn't what caused Haley to commit grand theft.

The foreclosure crisis has crushed thousands of Valley families, but Sam Haley found opportunity in the troubles of others.

The former real estate agent lost his license to practice in the business in 1979, but using his insider's knowledge, he found a way to profit on lost homes. Haley found empty homes in the foreclosure process and rented them out to desperate families.

Police caught him in 2008, but only after dozens of people gave Haley money. Four years later, the 69-year-old is headed to jail for his crimes, despite a plea for leniency because of some serious health issues.

"He suffers from PTSD, dementia, diabetes, blood clots in the lungs and legs," said his wife, Pauline Haley.

Sam Haley served 22 years in the military and after his arrest, he sought treatment for post -traumatic stress disorder. Social workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs say Haley's disorder went unnoticed for decades, but now it's bad, and he needs treatment.

"Mr. Haley, although he managed it well in the initial years, in the later years it became very obvious," said Herman Barretto, a social worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But prosecutors never accepted PTSD as an excuse for Haley's financial crimes and they asked a judge to put him in jail.

"The people believe he is a con man and that he is attempting to con this court right now," said prosecutor Sydney Ricks.

Haley has always been reluctant to admit he did anything wrong. In an interview with Action News right after his arrest, he said he was just trying to help people in need. And even as he apologized for his crime in court, he seemed unsure he'd even committed a crime.

"If I've injured anybody, which the court claims that I have, I'm very sorry for that," Haley told Judge Don Penner.

The judge sentenced Haley to 180 days in jail, plus five years of probation. He also ordered Haley to pay the victims more than $35,000 in restitution.

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Tags:
foreclosure, scams, court, crimetracker, fresno, fresno county, local, corin hoggard
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