Attorney General James And NYS Police Announce Arrest Of Upstate Resident For Scheme To Defraud Over 40 Homebuyers 

Sherrie A. Burton, Owner of Valued Homes, Charged With Stealing Over $1 Million from Buyers of Modular and Manufactured Homes throughout Upstate New York

UPSTATE NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James and State Police Acting Superintendent Keith Corlett announced today the arrest of Sherrie A. Burton for defrauding homebuyers throughout Upstate New York of over $1 million. The defendant was arraigned today on a 9-count felony complaint including charges of Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. A joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the New York State Police revealed that Burton allegedly used her businesses, Valued Manufactured Housing, Inc. (“VMH”) and Valued Homes (“VH”) to fraudulently solicit deposits, down payments, and even full cash payments from unsuspecting customers of modular and manufactured homes. She then allegedly used the money for personal expenses and to further her ongoing scheme.   

“We will never tolerate any fraudulent behavior that takes advantage of hardworking New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Instead of fulfilling the dream of homeownership, Ms. Burton allegedly defrauded homebuyers and used their savings for her personal expenses and gains. My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who engages in activities that harm our residents.” 

"I applaud the work performed on this case by the New York State Attorney General’s office and our State Police Investigators,” said Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “This individual perpetuated a devious scheme to defraud hardworking New Yorkers out of thousands of dollars for her own gain. Because of the strong collaboration among law enforcement, we were able to expose this fraud. The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to end these types of fraudulent practices and hold accountable those who prey on innocent people.” 

According to the felony complaint and statements by the prosecution in court, between at least March 2015 and July 2018, the defendant operated VMH and VH in South Glens Falls, Saratoga County, which offered to sell homebuyers newly built manufactured and modular homes. Manufactured homes are factory-built houses engineered and constructed to the specifications of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s federal building code, while modular homes are factory-built homes that are built to state building standards. Both manufactured and modular homes are transported on a carrier and permanently set on a foundation.   

Prosecutors allege that Burton falsely represented to customers that they needed to put a substantial deposit in order for the manufacturer to begin construction of their new home, while in reality the manufacturers did not require such a deposit.  Burton then allegedly diverted the deposits for her own use, instead of using them towards the purchase of the victims’ homes.  In other multiple instances, Burton allegedly used the deposits to pay her own personal expenses, including purchases at Zynga Games, and the Home Shopping Network, expenditures at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, payments for hotels, groceries, gas and alcohol, credit card payments, and cash withdrawals. In other instances, Burton allegedly used deposits from new victims to further her ongoing scheme by paying manufacturers for homes she had promised to prior customers months before. 

Also according to prosecutors, Burton obtained financing to purchase floor plan or display models, yet sold them as new models to many customers, leaving the victims without legal title to the home and the lenders believing the homes were still on display at her showroom.   

In one instance, a victim received a home from Burton but could not obtain title allowing her to insure or borrow against the home for over a year. In another instance, a victim provided a deposit of $8,000 to Burton, who never remitted the money to the manufacturer, and the victim therefore had to obtain a mortgage for the full price of the home -- essentially paying the deposit twice. Many customers who paid Burton never received a home, and never got a refund of their money. 

Burton was charged in the Attorney General’s felony complaint, filed today in Saratoga County,  with three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, five counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony. 

The Attorney General’s investigation is ongoing. According to the prosecution, the investigation has thus far uncovered over 40 victims of Burton’s scheme in and around Upstate New York, who were allegedly defrauded out of over $1 million.   

Burton, 64, was arraigned today in Town of Moreau Justice Court before the Honorable Jeffrey B. McCabe. Bail was set in the amount of $75,000 cash or $150,000 bond. 

If convicted of all counts, Burton faces up to 10 to 20 years in state prison. The charges against the defendant are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.    

The criminal investigation commenced after multiple victims filed complaints with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau. To protect yourself from becoming a victim of a home or property sale scam, Attorney General James offered the following tips: 

  • Before contracting for a large purchase, DO YOUR HOMEWORK: 
  • Ask for references and call them. 
  • Research online for complaints: 
  • Check the better Business Bureau website and review the basis for their rating, including the complaint summaries, which are usually available online.  If you see anything that gives you pause, take your business elsewhere. 
  • Be wary of providing a large deposit upfront.  Remember, if the business fails, you will likely not get your deposit back. 
  • If you give a deposit that is supposed to be used for a specific purpose, demand proof that it has been applied to that purpose. 
  • Review any contract carefully before signing it and keep a copy for your records. You will be bound by the contract terms -- any oral representations made are unenforceable. 
  • If you believe you have been scammed as part of a home or property sale, submit a complaint to the New York State Attorney General’s Office: 

Attorney General James thanks the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Financial Crimes Unit for their valuable assistance on this investigation.  

Consumer complaints were handled by Assistant Attorneys General Amy Schallop and Emily Auletta of the Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Bureau Chief Jane Azia. 

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese and Special Counsel Benjamin S. Clark of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Support Analysts Kira M. Russom, Rebecca Jacobson, and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. The Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Criminal Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. 

The OAG investigation was conducted by Investigator Samuel Scotellaro, III, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Mark Spencer and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief John Reidy.