ORLANDO, Fla. - Allied Veterans of the World, a nonprofit group aimed at supporting veterans, has opened dozens of strip
Duval County records reveal that Allied's national commander, Jerry Bass, bought one Jacksonville home on Water View Circle in 1996 for $95,000. He then sold it in 2011 to Allied Veterans of the World Inc. for $180,000, an $85,000 profit.
"Did it seem strange to you at the time?" asked Channel 9's George Spencer.
"Well, I mean, it does seem odd that you're going to sell the house you own to the company you're affiliated with," said neighbor Lisa Creel.
But it wasn't just Bass' personal home. In the worst housing market in recent history, records show Bass bought a property on West 19th Street in Jacksonville for $50,000 and sold it to Allied Veterans of the World Inc. two years later at a $15,000 profit.
Bass paid $28,000 for a house on Cahoon Road in 2009. In 2011, he sold it to Allied Veterans Management Group for $65,000.
Allied's attorney, Kelly Mathis, said the higher sale prices reflect renovations, roof replacements, additions and other work that Bass did to the properties. He also said all the homes were sold at below-market prices at the time.
But 9 Investigates found the current market value of all three properties is actually less than what Bass paid for them, according to the property appraiser's website.
John Sowinksi, of NoCasinos.org, said personal profiting related to a nonprofit group demands investigation.
"Here we were, in the worst real estate market in any of our lifetimes, and yet you have someone who's the head of a charity, apparently selling properties, flipping properties," said Sowinski.
9 Investigates looked for Bass twice last week at his new home to no avail. He and his wife bought the Jacksonville waterfront property in 2010, the day before they got a $325,000 mortgage for the house from the for-profit Allied Veterans Management Group.
Mathis said Bass' sale of the other three properties was intended to raise money for the purchase of his current home.
Despite Allied's goal of supporting veterans, it is not using all of the homes to house veterans.
Creel's brother, who is now the tenant in the Water View Circle home, was never in the armed forces.
"You're saying your brother is not a veteran?" Spencer asked.
"No," Creel said.
The American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group, said real estate dealings like the ones described would raise red flags with them and possibly with the IRS.
Full Statement from Bass' lawyer:
Your “facts” fail to account for two significant points. First, you fail to include money paid for major renovations, roof replacement, additions and other significant expenditures in connection with these properties. Second, all of these homes were sold for less than fair market value.
Mr. Bass sold these 3 properties to raise the money to purchase his current home.
Allied Veterans does not solicit contributions from the public. It derives its income from business activities, including investments.
-- Kelly B. Mathis, Esquire