Barred businessman accused of McMinnville housing scam

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. - KATU has been investigating Jerry Rosenstiel for more than six years.

The businessman has been accused of conning people out of money. Now he's accused in yet another scam.

Over the years, KATU has uncovered Rosenstiel's shady practices in car deals, business deals - even with his own insurance agent - and a young girls' soccer team.

The Oregon Department of Justice has banned him from doing business in the state and KATU has uncovered shady practices and complaints in seven different cities. Complaints with the attorney general's office say things like, "failure to deliver goods" and "establishing a 'stolen' identity."

Now police accuse him of being part of a rental home scam on Craigslist in McMinnville and stealing more than $10,000. He's already tricked at least 10 people, and police say there might be more victims.

For Debbie Kelchner and Laci Cannard, the home with three bedrooms, two baths and a big backyard on Southwest Manzanita Street in McMinnville seemed like the perfect place.

"Everything seemed legit," said Cannard.

"I signed a lease. I signed everything," said Kelchner.

"We gave him the money for the deposit, and he wrote us the receipt," said Cannard. "We're like, 'Oh, he wrote us a receipt, we have a money trail. We're good to go.'"

But McMinnville police say Rosenstiel took both families' deposits of $500 to $1,000 but never let them move in. And he never actually owned the vacant home.

"He told us he has cancer, and this is the last house he has for his rental properties ... and his daughter died right up the street," Cannard said.

Police say Rosenstiel most recently went by the name "Jerry Carpenter" and in the past he called himself "Jerry Bates."

On Your Side Investigator Anna Canzano tracked Rosenstiel down last year but he couldn't explain it all away.

"Why do I keep hearing from people ... who are unhappy with the way you've done business with them?" Canzano asked him.

"I can't give you a straight answer because I don't have one," he responded.

Rosenstiel is a convicted felon. Newberg police arrested him for theft four years ago.

But that hasn't seemed to stop him from scamming again and again.

"We had to be out of the old place by the end of July, and we didn't have the money to stay another month because he took it," Kelchner said.

And Cannard said, "We're going to have to start saving up money again so we have a deposit to move into a place because he took all of our savings."

McMinnville police say they have been in contact with Rosenstiel once recently, and he gave them a Hillsboro address.

He's now told police to talk to his attorney for anything else.

This is still an active criminal investigation, but it could lead to a charge of "theft by deception" and one count for each victim.

That's why police want to hear from anyone else who may have lost money in this housing scheme.

Read more about KATU's investigations into Rosenstiel.