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Cops in trouble over real estate business

PHOENIX, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Two Phoenix police lieutenants have been suspended with pay pending an investigation into the real estate business they ran on the side, officials say.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office levied a $450,000 civil penalty Wednesday on Mark Tallman and Lee Brent Shaw, The Arizona Republic reported. State officials said Tallman and Shaw operated a sale-leaseback business that preyed on homeowners facing foreclosure.

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Between 2002 and 2006, the lieutenants' company, Better Choice LLC, would approach owners at risk of losing their homes and offer to buy the property at a price well under market value, the state said. The owners could continue to live in the house, paying rent, with an option to repurchase at a higher price.

"If the owner-turned-renter violated any of the conditions, such as by making a late rental payment or being evicted, the option to repurchase the home became void and the individual was subject to immediate eviction," the Attorney General's Office said.

Sgt. Trent Crump, a Police Department spokesman, said Phoenix detectives are reviewing the case. Tallman and Shaw have been put on paid leave.

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