Like the housing industry, real estate “guru” Mark Bosworth is in crash mode

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"This is the starting point for why we are here today," Wercinski says, referring to his department's ongoing investigation into the many complaints against GoRenter.com, formerly Home America.

Wercinski's department banned Russell Bosworth from real estate activities last October and ordered him to pay back his clients' money.

As this story went to press, Russell Bosworth was preparing for his trial on burglary charges — he's accused of stealing carpet, appliances and other items from rental homes owned by Berne Fleming and other Mark Bosworth employees. He put them in his own rented home, a home that Mark Bosworth owned.

After Mark learned what had happened, he informed police of his brother's actions — proof, he says, that he's a straight shooter.

Russell Bosworth could not be reached for comment.

Mark Bosworth's detractors say they would like to know what Russell Bosworth is telling investigators about his brother these days. Some of Mark's former employees say they've been cooperating with investigators from the Attorney General's Office, the Arizona Corporation Commission, and the IRS.

Mark Bosworth has an answer for just about every criticism. Trouble is, a lot of his answers are hard to swallow.

Take what he says about his divorce from Brenda Sue. Bosworth says he began seeking a divorce in 1989. But the divorce didn't happen until 1995 because, Bosworth claims, they were often separated during that period and it was difficult to serve her with legal papers.

Sure, his books at Home America were a mess as of last year, and customers were justified in complaining, he admits. But the problem, he says, was simply a software foul-up that took some time to fix.

That sounds reasonable until he says the software problem went on for eight months.

Bosworth says the Department of Real Estate has a personal vendetta against him, that Commissioner Wercinski is using the Home America case to make a name for himself.

Bosworth says he didn't forge Magelsen's name on documents, that Magelsen "pressured" a company employee (Bosworth has no idea whom) to sign the deeds for Magelsen's own purposes.

"Whoever did that, it was at Ben's instruction," Bosworth claims.

Magelsen denies it, of course, and the jury in his lawsuit didn't believe that explanation, either.

In the Martha Mow case, Bosworth admitted he signed the widow's name on a deed that he then used to sell the property himself. As Judge Katz noted in his recent ruling, Bosworth had "signed [Mow's] name and had it notarized as if she were present."

Bosworth's excuse is that he made a stupid mistake.

At the time, he says, he thought that because Mow had given him power of attorney and wanted him to sell the property (Mow denies both claims), he was legally allowed to sign her name.

No power of attorney from Mow has ever been presented in the case. Bosworth says that is because she stole the file declaring power of attorney while working at Home America for several weeks after her husband died.

But even if any of that happened, it's incredible that the real estate "guru" didn't know that even with power of attorney, you can't legally sign someone's name without noting what is going on. The person with the power of attorney is supposed to sign the owner's name to the document, then sign his or her name with an abbreviated note: "POA."

Bosworth should have known that because that's the way he used power of attorney granted him by client Brian Schofield of Utah in a home sale in 2003. That was more than two years before he signed Mow's name on her property's deed without noting the supposed power-of-attorney privilege.

Bosworth issues a lot of blanket denials:

• He knew nothing about Russell's alleged burglaries and knew nothing of any maintenance fraud or other misdealings at Home America or at his other companies.

• When he was busted by speed-enforcement cameras for driving 110 miles per hour on Loop 101, his brother had "possibly" been driving at the time.

• The changing market is responsible for any losses incurred by his investors.

• His creditors won't be out even one dime — even if he loses the appeal of the Magelsen verdict — because he'll pay back 100 percent of what he owes, even if it takes years.

Bosworth says he has many satisfied customers, and provides a list of some of them to New Times.

But when two people on the list are contacted, the endorsements are short of glowing.

James Telaroli, a former business partner of Bosworth's, says he managed to make "a few hundred thousand" dollars on about 15 rental homes he had purchased through Bosworth's companies.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.