Mobile Home Park Owner Slammed $500K Over Fraud, Living Conditions
The owner of a Mattawa mobile home park is facing at least $1 million worth of fines, repairs and other charges after he was found guilty in a lawsuit stemming back to 2015.
Gary Chavers, the owner of the Sun & Sand Park in Mattawa, is facing a $500,000 fine for a scheme he was running against tenants, mostly who were Hispanic and spoke or understood little English.
WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against Chavers in 2015, after allegations were made over uninhabitable living conditions and the fraud charges.
Ferguson said most of the park's 53 homes (inhabited by mostly Hispanic farm workers) were dilapidated, run down and bug infested. Doors and windows failed to properly close and seal, letting in rain and cold. Tenants, including children, were routinely bitten by bed bugs and other insects. Dangerous defects were present in stairs, railings and other structures.
When the City of Mattawa adopted new ordinance codes requiring significant upgrades to the homes, Chavers concocted a scheme where he coerced the tenants into signing sham "purchase agreements." The documents were only in English, and Chavers did little to help the tenants understand what they were signing. The documents allowed Chavers to skirt around the new Mattawa regulations.
The ordinances were passed after a fire in a mobile home that killed a woman and two children a few years ago.
Chavers reportedly began limited renovations after learning the state had fled a lawsuit against him. He now has 120 days to upgrade and get the homes repaired to current codes, at a cost of some $400,000. Besides a penalty of $500,000 for the sham purchase agreements, he could also face a $200,000 fine if he fails to fulfill the agreement.
Ironically, the park is located less than a block from the Mattawa Police Department.