ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — A convicted felon who promised to build people their tiny dream home has instead filed for bankruptcy and faces an investigation by the Englewood Police Department.
Matthew Sowash and his attorneys did not return phone calls or emails to the Problem Solvers, but FOX31 spoke to multiple people who fear they could be out of their life’s savings.
“I really hope he’s not a fraudster,” Samara Nait, a 24-year-old mom with a 3-year-old daughter, said.
She was the first customer the Problem Solvers interviewed back in September.
At the time she was living out of her car because the 400-square-foot tiny home she paid for in full, $64,000, never arrived in Paonia by Sept. 1.
“It’s super stressful. I mean I feel like I have no other choice but to just trust that he’s going to come through because I don’t even want to think about losing that money,” Nait said.
Status of Sowash’s tiny home business
The day before FOX31 interviewed Nait, she showed up at the Holy Ground Real Estate warehouse in Englewood, where the tiny homes are built, to ask for her house or a refund.
What she received instead was a promissory note insisting her home would be delivered by Oct. 14 or she would get her money back. She received neither when Oct. 14 rolled around.
Instead, dozens of people received a bankruptcy notice filed on Oct. 7 with a “Stay Order” telling customers, “Any contact with this business in regards to your home is a violation of this order. All customer home orders have been halted.”
Englewood Police have told the Problem Solvers they have taken 14 reports of potential fraud involving Sowash and continue to investigate his operations, which are registered under the names Holy Ground Tiny Homes and Revelations in Christ Ministries.
Sowash filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on behalf of both companies.
A list of his 20 largest creditors who have unsecured claims includes customers from across the country who paid anywhere from $57,800 to more than $95,250 for a tiny home they never received.
Bankruptcy documents show he also owes $256,000 to Kinetic Direct Funding LLC.
In addition, he faces multiple lawsuits from customers and a lumber supplier.
Teenager wanted to be independent by 18
Kylee Bashor, 17, is one of many who paid for a tiny 400-square-foot home they never received.
“So, so far, I’ve put down $15,478,” Bashor said.
The teenager from Milliken was hoping to live on her own once she graduated high school.
“This is all the money that I had saved up and I wanted to be living on my own at age 18 just to say that I did it and to be proud of myself,” Bashor said.
She stopped making payments in July when her tiny home wasn’t delivered.
When asked if she thought she would ever get the home she ordered, she responded, “I hope so, but I don’t think so at this point.”
Lakewood woman took a chance
“I knew he had been a former prisoner, ex-con, but I do believe in second chances,” Theresa Meggitt of Lakewood said.
She was familiar with Youtube and TikTok videos where Sowash advertised his tiny homes and spoke of his past, including one video Sowash posted in 2017.
“I didn’t find the Lord till I was about 45 years old. I actually found him in prison in November of 2009,” is what Sowash shared before adding, “Blessed to be sent to prison here in Colorado. I was charged with nine counts of securities fraud for the way I conducted my business.”
Sowash was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud related to the poker industry but ended up serving only about two years.
After his release, Sowash claimed to be a changed man who, in one video posted to Youtube on June 30, 2020, said, “With the ministry, you know, affordable housing is huge for us.”
Meggitt told the Problem Solvers she can’t afford to be out $14,000.
Her tiny home was supposed to arrive in July of 2021 but said she stopped making payments after Sowash’s delivery date kept getting postponed — first September, then October and finally December of 2021.
“I never got it,” Meggitt said, and added Sowash is “not talking to me anymore.”
Yet as recently as July, Sowash was still advertising homes for sale online, stating in one Youtube video, “And again, this house is available right now. It’s a little over $47,000.”
Couple gets uninhabitable tiny home
Ben Scott and Alex Maes of Greeley are the only couple the Problem Solvers met who actually received their tiny home.
“So we paid $24,000 cash and was told it would be done in May and didn’t get it til December,” Scott said.
He and his girlfriend said the home they received was in shoddy condition.
“And by the time we got the home, like there was, you know, there’s a hole in the floor behind the fridge later that we found, you know scratches, the house wasn’t level. So drawers kind of pop out whenever we level it,” Maes said.
Their tiny home now sits five hours away on a relative’s property in Springfield because the house is uninhabitable as far as they’re concerned.
“Bringing that to their attention, we were gaslit and said we didn’t know what we were talking about. So we brought in a third-party contractor and he said, ‘Hey, you know, this is unlevel. You guys need to get this corrected,'” Scott said.
The couple said they were told a repairman would show up, but one never did.
“He said, you know, you guys are so nice, you’re so patient with us and understanding. We just want you to be happy. You know, you’re a lot better than some of our other customers. Our other customers are (expletive),” is what Maes remembered being told.
Scott and Maes said the man who claimed Christian values sure didn’t reflect them.
“He sent out a letter to his prior and current customers saying, ‘Hey, if you’re leaving bad reviews for us, you’re not going to get your home. You’re only hurting yourself.’ And then at the end of it, he follows it up with ‘God Bless,'” Scott said.
Homes offered for sale in recent video
On Monday, Oct. 24 Sowash posted a new video to YouTube again offering tiny homes for sale telling viewers, “Don’t believe everything you hear and see in the media because we’re building and delivering tiny houses every day.”
That may seem odd since current customers have been told their orders have been “halted” and they will have to hope for the best in bankruptcy court.
In an email to the Problem Solvers, Sowash’s bankruptcy attorney David Wadsworth wrote:
Holy Ground Tiny Homes and Revelations in Christ Ministries each filed voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy cases on October 7th. Chapter 11 affords the companies the opportunity to operate and reorganize their businesses, rather than shut down and liquidate. Accordingly, HGTC is operating. It is building and selling homes as described in the video you linked in your email. The companies intend to file a joint “plan of reorganization” that provides for the re-payment over time of debts incurred prior to the bankruptcy filings.
A spokesman for the Englewood Police Department said a detective continues to investigate and hasn’t decided if the case will be forwarded to prosecutors.
But a spokesman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office told FOX31 his office is familiar with the case and is anxious to review it for possible prosecution.