Towers, meanwhile,has had a litany of financial difficulty and is facing allegations of investmentfraud, Polk County court records show.
A breach of contract and fraud case pending in Polk County alleges that Towers, as owner of MTM investments and another company called Knight Watch Intelligence Agency operating from the same Merle Hay Road address, entered into contracts with a friend from Nevada, Denise Wayne, in 2015.
Under the contracts signed by both women, Wayne loaned MTM and Knight Watch money to invest in real estate and process diamonds. Wayne said she wired at least $231,000 to Towers and received none of her loan or the investment returns promisedunder the contracts.
Interviewed from Las Vegas, Wayne saidshe taught Towers in an online credit-repair course and the two became friends. After she received a settlement from an injury, she said, Towers persuaded her to wire investment money for real estate and took some of the money to buy diamonds instead.
Court records show 51-year-old Towers has been sued severaltimes in civil court for failing to payothers.
She and her husbandalso filed bankruptcy in 2011 and, in November 2016, were subjects of an IRS lien filed against them for nonpayment of $58,200 in taxes, Polk County records show.
The two have bought and sold dozens of properties around Des Moines under different company names and rounded up investment income for others in real estate. Some properties were transferred to Towers fathers church before being transferred into Karen and Steve Towers names, according to the Polk County Treasurers Office.
The Towerses also listed having a church of their own, Living Truth Church, at the same Merle Hay Road address and suite where they housed businesses.
House flipper: Willing to deal
Thomas Dean, a former pharmacist turned real estate developer, told Watchdog he has used Towers on deals to find buyers for homes he renovates and sells.
He said he doesnt try to meet those to whom he sells homes. Instead, he tries to assure they come to him with at least $10,000 to assure they can afford the houses he sells on contract.
As far as Im concerned, if they come in with the money, thats qualified for me.
Dean said hes never found Towers to be dishonest to him or to customers. But, he said, he has no idea what she might have told the couple or how they interpreted what she said.
I have never even talked to these buyers. Im a mortgage broker, he said. The middle man usually takes care of these things. What Karen did or did not say I dont know. My contract says what it says. They knew what they were signing.
He said the money the Hardings gave Towers for the down payment, monthly payments and taxes was given to him. He said he paid Towers a commission.
The monthly payments made up front, he said, take the Hardings to June and are as safe as a bird in a nest, Dean said. The taxes they gave him will be paid in March and September, he said.
The second water heater installed at the house was a 40-gallon unit used in many homes and is in great shape, he said.
Dean said he might be able to work out a deal if the Hardings determine they cannot afford the house. If a new buyer is found quickly, he said, there may be something he could do regarding the down payment they put toward buying it.
To me, thats the best way to find a solution over the next three months we have together, Dean said.
The Hardings have tried to get legal guidance and have been referred to Iowas Volunteer Lawyer Project.
Last week, Dean sent a colleague to the Hardings house to see if they wanted to put the house back up for sale.
But until the Hardings have legal representation, they said, they are not going to make any new deals.
Lee Roods Readers Watchdog column helps Iowans get answers and accountability from public officials, the justice system, businesses and nonprofits. Contact her email@example.com, 515-284-8549, on Twitter@leeroodor atFacebook.com/readerswatchdog.