Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill man gets 8 years for phony home inspection reports

Last March, Secret Service agents raided Dean Counce’s office in a nondescript cream-colored warehouse tucked behind a Dollar General Store off Spring Hill Drive, south of Brooksville. 


Last March, Secret Service agents raided Dean Counce’s office in a nondescript cream-colored warehouse tucked behind a Dollar General Store off Spring Hill Drive, south of Brooksville. 

TAMPA — A Spring Hill man who made millions by fabricating thousands of inspection reports on foreclosed homes is headed to federal prison.

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. on Wednesday sentenced Dean Counce to 97 months, or a little more than eight years. Moody also ordered Counce, 42, to pay nearly $12.8 million in restitution to Bank of America.

Counce's Brooksville company, American Mortgage Field Services, contracted with lenders to regularly inspect properties in foreclosure throughout the state. As the housing market imploded, business boomed.

By 2009, Counce was sending as many as 100,000 inspection reports each month to Bank of America, receiving about $6.50 for each. In most cases, the company then billed the federal entities that owned or insured the mortgages.

The problem: As many as 60 percent of the reports were fabricated, court records show.

Bank of America helped investigators build the case.

"We are pleased with the outcome," company spokeswoman Shirley Norton said in an email to the Times.

About 2007, Counce founded a company called Mid-Florida Home Securing. He changed the name two years later to American Mortgage Field Services. The company specialized in residential and commercial property inspections and general home repairs and maintenance, according to its website.

The home inspections required Counce to visit a property, complete a report, take photographs and send the information to the lender. As the housing market sank to new depths, the company couldn't keep up with the volume of inspection requests, so Counce and his staff started fabricating reports, authorities alleged.

When a new request came in, Counce directed his inspectors to visit the property and take a number of photographs, far more than necessary for a single report. He asked other employees — some of them still in high school — to use the photos for subsequent reports.

In other cases, Counce told workers to use information from public websites, such as the local property appraiser's office, to fabricate reports for properties that weren't inspected. Staffers who produced a large number of false reports were often rewarded with cash bonuses.

Bank of America paid the company about $23.5 million over the course of five years. Counce was able to keep overhead so low that he netted between $700,000 and $1 million in a single month, investigators say.

Last March, Secret Service agents raided Counce's office in a nondescript cream-colored warehouse tucked behind a Dollar General Store off Spring Hill Drive, south of Brooksville. He pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

As part of a plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and testify if necessary. Prosecutors, in turn, did not oppose his request for a prison term on the low end of the sentencing guidelines, which called for 97 to 121 months.

No other arrests have been made in the case.

"This investigation is far from over," Counce's attorney, John M. Fitzgibbons, said after the hearing. He declined to comment further.

It will be up to Bank of America to work out the details of reimbursement with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which mandated and ultimately paid for the inspection reports, said a U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman.

To help cover the damages, Moody ordered Counce to forfeit some jewelry and two pieces of property on Golddust Road in Spring Hill.

That probably won't make much of a dent in what he owes, though. According to county records, the combined value of the properties is about $214,000.

News researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431.

Spring Hill man gets 8 years for phony home inspection reports 02/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign


    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home


    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence


    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”