ESCANABA - A Bark River man, convicted of property scams last week, entered a plea on another embezzlement charge Wednesday. The plea cancelled a four-day criminal trial scheduled next month in Delta County Circuit Court.
Jason Bradley Ives, 32, currently lodged in the county jail, pleaded no contest to larceny by conversion $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 during a 7:30 a.m. hearing Wednesday.
The felony charge stems from Ives failing to refund a couple $7,000 they paid him to build a garage in Bark River Township in 2010.
A second count of false pretenses, $20,000 or more, was dismissed Wednesday in exchange for the no contest plea to embezzlement. Ives had been charged with the 10-year felony for failing to refund the same couple $30,000. They paid Ives the down payment to buy his residence in Bark River Township where he promised to build them a garage.
In 2010, Mike and Nancy Kossow gave Ives $30,000 to go toward the current mortgage on his home to reduce their monthly payment once they purchased his property. The couple also gave Ives $7,000 to build a garage that was never built. The Kossows never acquired the home and were never refunded the $37,000 they gave Ives.
During Wednesday's plea hearing, Ives entered the no contest plea relating to the failed garage deal. A no contest plea is sentenced the same as a guilty plea. Sentencing is set for 3 p.m., Aug. 9, before Circuit Court Judge Stephen Davis.
Larceny by conversion $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 is punishable by up to five years in prison, with a maximum fine of $10,000 or three times the amount of money embezzled, whichever is greater.
As part of the plea agreement made Wednesday, in addition to a possible jail term, Ives may be ordered to reimburse the $37,000 to the Kossows.
A bench trial in circuit court, related to a civil case on the same two transactions above, remains scheduled for Ives and also his wife, Jennifer Ives, on Sept. 13-14. In a bench trial, the judge rules on a case based on evidence presented.
Ives is also scheduled to appear at a bench trial in district court on Sept. 25 regarding a civil suit he filed against James and Kristin Curtice for alleged damages to a home Ives was selling to them. District Court Judge Glenn Pearson will also consider, at the same hearing, a countersuit filed by the Curtices.
The Curtices, who paid Ives $10,000 down on property at 6556 C Road in September 2010, moved into the home and were given a year to obtain a mortgage loan. After living in the home, the couple discovered several major defects with the house and decided not to purchase the property located in Bark River Township, according to their countersuit.
On Aug. 18, 2011, Ives filed a complaint in small claims court against the Curtices for $3,000 worth of damages in the home.
The Curtices filed a counterclaim against Ives on Sept. 15, 2011, requesting he refund them $5,000, part of their down payment minus rent they agreed to pay if they decided not to buy.
On Feb. 2, 2012, Ives amended his complaint against the Curtices, identifying $5,000 to $25,000 worth of damages to the home which he said occurred while they lived there from Sept. 28, 2010 to Aug. 1, 2011.
A week ago, Ives was sentenced to six months in jail for failing to refund down payments to two parties unknowingly purchasing the same property at 6556 C Road, before the Curtices lived there. He was sentenced on two counts of larceny by conversion $1,000 to $20,000.
Heather and Andrew Thomas gave him a $4,000 down payment on the home. Daniel Sandahl paid Ives $10,000 down on the same real estate. Closing dates for each agreement were a day apart from each other in August 2010.
After the Thomas's filed a complaint against Ives for not refunding their money as promised, the Delta County Sheriff Department began an investigation into alleged property scams. Ives was arrested in September 2011. He was free on a $25,000 cash bond until his sentencing last week.
Other pending action against Ives includes a decision on alleged building code violations on a Rapid River home and alleged home remodeling scams under investigation in Menominee County.