Homeowners, real estate agents arrested in scheme to sell home with sinkhole damage

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

TAMPA (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a husband and wife and two real estate agents, accused of defrauding a Spring Hill family who unknowingly purchased a home with a sinkhole underneath.

The arrests follow an 8 On Your Side investigation that uncovered the sale and that the sellers pocketed an insurance settlement for the sinkhole activity and failed to disclose that settlement on their real estate disclosure forms.

MORE: ​​Insurance company failed to file sinkhole document to warn Spring Hill buyers

Arrested Thursday are the sellers, Clarence and Mary Surrena, of Seminole County, and real estate agents, Shawn Poole, of Spring Hill, and Karen Sherwin, of Port Richey.

Karen Sherwin & Shawn Poole

They were charged with organized scheme to defraud relating to the sale of a home with sinkhole property damage.

During the investigation, agents found that Clarence and Mary Surrena sold their home at 18735 Bonnie Drive, Spring Hill, in Pasco County, to a couple for $275,000.

The Surrenas did acknowledge filing a sinkhole claim; however, they did not reveal the claim was paid. Although the Surrenas received $155,000 in October 2013 to fix the sinkhole, the money was not used for that purpose, FDLE said.

Sherwin, the Surrenas’ realtor, and Shawn Poole, the buyers’ agent, were aware of the insurance claim and the incomplete Seller’s Disclosure Form.

The buyers only became aware of the sinkhole after moving into their home when a representative of a home insurance company called to say the home could not be insured. The buyers believed they were insured at closing.

Clarence and Mary Surrena were both taken to the Seminole County Jail on $15,000 bond each; Karen Sherwin and Shawn Poole were both taken to the Pasco County Jail on $5,000 bond each.

The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, 6th Judicial Circuit.


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