Stites guarding the henhouse


Chad Stites was back in the news (jump page here) this weekend. He's received a $600,000 contract to oversee the appraisal of homes for HUD in a six-state region.

The story reminds us about one of the things Chad Stites did to get himself in trouble:

Stites appraised foreclosed properties for Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, and records show in six cases Stites had a role in the purchase of properties that he had appraised. Glanz fired Stites as an appraiser after the purchases were revealed.

A state audit found six cases in which Stites, his relatives or his company purchased property at sheriff's auctions that Stites had appraised. The audit concluded that state laws against conspiracy and obtaining property by false pretenses may have been violated.

The story goes on to say that HUD is hiring someone to oversee appraisals is the possibility of an unscrupulous appraiser abusing the system, and that one of Stites' companies was targeted for special scrutiny:

The contracts are not the first work Stites has done for HUD. Another company operated by Stites, Appraisers of Tulsa, appraised more than 3,200 properties for HUD between 1995 and 2000, ranking fourth nationally in the number of appraisals, according to a 2001 audit by the agency.

The audit by HUD warned that "the appraisal process is inherently vulnerable to abuse and should be closely monitored." It states that the agency's single-family appraisal process "had received virtually no HUD oversight."

The audit was prompted by problems with HUD properties in Philadelphia that had no connection to Stites' company but reviewed national data on appraisals of other HUD properties. It found "alarming trends" in the difference between the appraised value and the actual sales price of the property.

The audit highlighted Appraisers of Tulsa as one of the appraisal companies that should be monitored, given the difference between appraised value and purchase price, nearly 15 percent.

"Appraisal monitoring and quality assurance efforts might best be focused on these companies," the audit states.

Robert Pinney rightly refers to the situation as the fox guarding the henhouse, and points out that his complaint about Stites to the Real Estate Appraiser Board, filed 15 months ago, has yet to be acted upon. In response, Stites displays the "even-keel temperament" and sound judgment that prompted the Tulsa Whirled to endorse him in a special state house election in 2002:

Pinney filed his complaint more than 15 months ago alleging that Stites violated numerous ethics codes that appraisers are required to follow. He said he has received no explanation about why the board has not acted on the complaint.

"Their failure to address my complaint filed over 15 months ago certainly proves their value as a regulatory agency. They've failed their primary reason for existence, which is to qualify persons for federal contracts."

Stites described Pinney as "a sore loser."

"Robert Pinney probably needs to get a life."

And this is the person the Tulsa Whirled told us was best qualified to replace John Sullivan in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 12, 2004 7:22 AM.

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