TAMPA — A federal jury convicted a Spring Hill couple of wire fraud Thursday for keeping a sinkhole secret from buyers after first pocketing a $153,745 insurance settlement and making only cosmetic repairs.
In 2009, Glenn and Kathryn Jasen discovered a sinkhole beneath their Hernando County home and filed a claim with Citizens Property Insurance. The insurer offered to either repair the sinkhole or compensate the Jasens for their losses.
They chose the check but kept the money and did not repair the sinkhole, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated in a news release.
The home was sold years later to a family with five children. On a disclosure form, the Jasens denied knowledge of sinkholes or sinkhole claims, the prosecution alleged.
"In March 2015, the family heard what sounded like a car crash in the earth beneath their house," the news release states. "They soon discovered a crack running across the floor of the house and immediately had to evacuate."
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas N. Palermo, who earlier this year won a jury trial in a $10 million wire fraud case against a pair of Belleair Beach scientists accused of lying to get research grants.
The Jasens are expected to be sentenced Jan. 11.