KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City businessman who has been at the center of several FOX 4 Problem Solver reports has been charged with defrauding his customers, and now he is apparently on the run.
Steven Burkhart, 55, faces 12 counts of theft, stealing by deceit and defrauding creditors in connection to his former mobile home business along 40 Highway in east Kansas City. Prosecutors say that Burkhart swindled thousands of dollars out of the elderly and disabled - people who trusted Burkhart to sell them new mobile homes.
Former Burkhart customer Douglas Ashby says that he isn't surprised by the charges.
"He's manipulative and dishonest," said Ashby. "I hope that he goes to jail for a long time."
According to investigators, Burkhart did not hold a license for his business from March 2010 through October 2011 - but he would still collect his customer's money and sell mobile homes under false pretenses.
Ashby says that in February 2010, he gave Burkhart almost $50,000 for a new trailer. A year-and-a-half later, Ashby finally got the title, but says that Burkhart overcharged him by almost $15,000 by selling him a used trailer instead of a new one.
"He goes and sells me a home that's supposed to be a brand-new 2009, and it's a 2007 and he charges me 2009 prices," said Ashby. "He defrauded everybody."
Last year, the State of Missouri ordered his business shut-down because investigators said that he was selling mobile homes without a license and titles.
"It's been going on for a long time," said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker. "We certainly like to know if there are additional victims that are out there."
Burkhart's current whereabouts are unknown. He faces a $50,000 bond when he is caught or surrenders.