KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kelly Andrews is a hard-working single mother of three young girls who thought life was finally going her way.
Last September, she put $20,000 down on a small house near Summit Street. She hoped to have her $35,000 contract for the deed paid in full by this summer. But that’s not what happened.
Andrews said she unwittingly became the victim of a professional conman.
“He keeps trying to tell me it’s just business, as if that’s an excuse,” said
Andrews, referring to the man who sold her the house — Clarence Burnett.
She regrets that she didn’t know Burnett’s past before trusting him with her money.
Her first hint that something was terribly wrong was in November when she tried to make her regular payment of $1,200. Something she did in cash every month at Burnett’s office on Troost.
He wasn’t there. He also wouldn’t answer her phone or texts. For months she kept trying to contact him. She finally heard from Burnett in March. He texted her, saying she was in violation of her contract for deed because she missed several payments and he’s no longer interested in doing business with her. He promised, however, that since she was a single mom he would return some of her money.
That was two months ago. Andrews hasn’t seen a dime.
“I’m really upset,” she said. “I don’t have my money. I don’t have my house. I’ve worked so hard to try and do something with my life now and I don’t have anything.”
So who is Clarence Burnett? According to his own website, Burnett’s an ex-con who masterminded a multimillion-dollar robbery at Tivol Jewelers in the 1990s.
He was also convicted of operating a cocaine trafficking ring. A self-produced video on his website states that he significantly shortened his time behind bars by becoming a snitch. Now he’s a free man and a self-proclaimed real estate mogul.
FOX4 Problem Solvers did some digging into the sale of that home and discovered the real truth behind Burnett’s sudden disinterest in March in continuing to sell it to Andrews. Burnett had sold the house out from under Andrews in January to someone else.
Problem Solvers paid a visit to the Troost office building where Burnett conducts his business. The door was locked, but we spoke to a man via an outside intercom system. We told him we were looking for Clarence Burnett. He told us we had the wrong address.
But when we described the problem Kelly Andrews was having getting her deed, the guy (at the supposed wrong address) seemed to know all about the transaction.
He claimed Andrews was several months behind in payments. That’s why the property was sold to someone else without ever telling her. Could that possibly be legal?
Problem Solvers showed the contract for deed to Chris Wirken, an attorney in Kansas City. Wirken said even if it was true that Andrews was behind on her payments there’s nothing in the contract that gave Burnett the right to sell the property to someone else.
“The whole notion of a contract is designed to really cover the backside of both parties and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst,” Wirken said. “This thing is so short and just lacking, it’s silly.”
But Burnett insisted to us in a phone call that he was the real victim in this house sale. He said he had paperwork to prove every claim he was making against Andrews and would show it to us.
Problem Solvers asked to meet him at 11 a.m. the following Tuesday. But when FOX4 showed up at his office, the door was locked, and no one answered the bell. We later heard from Burnett’s attorney who said Burnett didn’t do anything wrong. Despite that, he’s willing to give Andrews back most of her money.
Burnett’s attorney is now in negotiations with Kelly’s attorney. FOX4 Problem Solvers will let you know what happens.