The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld yesterday a $1.4 million jury award to purchasers of eight houses sold by Robert L. Beeman, a pioneer in the epidemic of property flipping that swept across Baltimore in the late 1990s. The court also sent the case back to city Circuit Court for proceedings on awarding the buyers additional, punitive damages.
Beeman, operating through his company, A Home of Your Own Inc., flipped more than 100 Baltimore houses over a four-year period. In September 2000, he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a count of mail fraud and received a three-year prison sentence.
He bought dilapidated houses at low prices and, after doing cosmetic repairs, sold them to unwary low-income renters at what yesterday's decision called "hugely inflated prices."
Soon after moving into the houses, the buyers found serious problems, including lack of heat, faulty plumbing and collapsing ceilings. Five of the houses ended up in foreclosure.
In 1999, the buyers sued Beeman, his company and his wife, Suzanne Beeman, along with Inland Mortgage Corp., which lent each buyer a mortgage insured by the FHA.