The owners of a local property management business accused of defrauding up to a million dollars from local home owners have been arrested by the FBI.
Bryan Talbott and Chester Ranson were arrested Tuesday and are facing a host of felony fraud charges.
The FBI estimates the loss from property management fraud to be more than $1 million.
The two men are accused of property management fraud, mortgage fraud, identity theft, bank fraud, and tax fraud encompassing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The allegations indicate they continued running their business after a 2009 cease and desist order from the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Homeowners allege Esquire Federal City Management, which also does business as Esquire, LLC and Private Properties, stole money from clients’ bank accounts, ABC7 first reported in May.
Back then, Talbott wouldn't respond to a reporter’s questions about the business. Homeowners are seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages, according to complaints obtained by ABC7 News that were filed with DCRA.
“I have no idea what they did with our money, I just know we have a large deal of money out there floating around, hopefully when things are taken care of we'll get what we deserve,” said Erica Thomas, the president of a Southeast D.C. homeowner's association. The association is one of more than 50 victims mentioned in court documents.
Many of those complaints are from people who own a residence in D.C. but were working overseas. They hired Esquire - in many cases, according to complaints, doing business as Private Properties - to manage their residences while those homes were rented out during their absences.
For example, a 2010 complaint filed with D.C. Superior Court alleges “condominium fees had been paid late over fourteen months” causing late fees, “property taxes for 2008 and the first half of 2009 had not been paid,” “tenant’s checking account had been debited twice; first in May and then in July.” The complaint adds, “the tenant’s inquiry to Bank of America showed that [Private Properties] had reprinted the check, tampered with it and then tried to cash it.” This complaint further claims, “statements incorrectly showed that [the homeowner] was receiving disbursements, when none of that money ended up in her account.” This resident claims $47,159.53 in damages.
Their office door was locked Wednesday, but lights and the phones were still on. A woman inside said the business continues to run.
“I just want justice to be served,” the homeowner’s association’s Thomas says.
Because the business was operating during their investigation, it’s possible there are additional victims, investigators say.
Talbott and Ransom denied the allegations raised in ABC7’s May report. They're being held in a federal facility out of state but will face a judge in D.C. in the coming weeks.
Read the original report: Property manager accused of shady business