UPDATE (Oct. 5, 2017) — Robert Fersch pleaded guilty to three counts of theft. All other charges were dropped. He received a suspended 3-year jail sentence and probation.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — More criminal charges have been filed against two men accused of ripping off homeowners and subcontractors out of more than a million dollars.
The two suspects are now facing hundreds of criminal charges spanning four counties.
Building and buying a home takes a huge financial commitment, but several prosecutors now say two men, Gary Ogle and Robert Fersch, used a home-building company to defraud customers and subcontractors for years.
“We had in 2013 a number of complaints against them,” said Tim Maniscalo with the BBB of Central Indiana.
Tim Maniscalo says the suspect’s home-building business called BiltRite Homes had the worst possible rating with the BBB, even before the company filed for bankruptcy.
The two suspects now face more than a hundred criminal charges in Hendricks, Marion and Hamilton counties, as well as more than a hundred charges in Boone County for corruption, forgery, perjury and theft.
The suspects allegedly used a variety of scams. One of the most common involved the suspects taking money from customers to build a home. The suspects would then use that money to pay off debts of previously built homes. Eventually, the suspects were no longer able to pay their debts resulting in liens being placed on completed homes.
In other cases, the suspects would take money for the construction and hire subcontractors to complete some of the work, but then didn’t pay the subcontractors, again resulting in liens being placed on the homes.
“You know most people out there want to do a good job, but you do have those people who aren’t doing it right. So it’s very important to check them out,” said Maniscalo.
Maniscalo says it’s critical for customers to do their homework and get references on home-builders before signing a contract to avoid falling victim to fraud.
“Building or purchasing a home is the single biggest investment people have, so you obviously want to take a lot of time checking them out,” said Maniscalo.
Ogle also faces charges in Marion County after being hired to rebuild homes damaged in the Richmond Hill explosion. Prosecutors say Ogle ripped off customers in that area as well.
State police say this remains a very active investigation. Criminal charges are also being sought against the suspects in Clinton County.
The pair are due back in court in Hamilton County later this month.