Monday, March 29, 1999

Robertson reports $500,000 missing in real-estate deal

The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — Federal authorities are seeking records of a $4.6 million real estate deal after the project's leader — Cincinnati basketball legend Oscar Robertson — raised questions about his partners.

        Mr. Robertson, now a Cincinnati businessman, said he became alarmed after retaking control of a 74-home development in Indianapolis and finding out thousands of dollars were missing.

        He fired his partner, Indianapolis developer Rodney Bynum, then alerted the FBI and IRS. While Mr. Robertson had invested $400,000 in the project, he said he was more concerned that the 74 low-income families could lose their homes.

        “You know, I got money at risk, but they have their whole livelihoods at risk,” Mr. Robertson said.

        Mr. Robertson told the Indianapolis Star that federal agencies are seeking documents and information from Mr. Bynum; Homeowners Financial Services of Columbus, Ohio; and Warren Tyler, an Ohio banker and former consultant to Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.

        The project, called Opportunity Associates, used a complex set of grants, loans and federal tax grants to build 74 houses in a development called Oxford Terrace. Low-income families were allowed to lease homes for 15 years, with the promise of buying them at bargain basement prices.

        Oxford Terrace residents say project managers — including Mr. Bynum and Mr. Tyler, came to their homes at night and forced them to pay large sums of cash, which were not recorded. Some residents, like Deanna Smith, got receipts.

        Mr. Robertson said he has sued Mr. Bynum, claiming he misappropriated up to $500,000. Mr. Bynum said Sunday he could not comment and referred questions to his attorney, Rick Ford of Indianapolis, who did not immediately return phone messages.

        Mr. Robertson was overseeing the project from Cincinnati. Mr. Bynum was the onsite boss.

        “You trust people in life,” Mr. Robertson said. “Then you look at this thing and say to yourself, “How the hell did this happen?”


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