KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Call For Action investigation involving a Leawood, Kan., landlord banned from renting to low-income families has uncovered new information about the landlord's past, plus a new tenant complaint against her.
In 2004, a federal judge ordered Edyth Hinton to be deported from the United States to her native Nigeria. Hinton continues to stay in the metro, while U.S. immigration officials try to get Nigeria to take her back.
On the surface, Hinton looks like an American success story. She moved to the United States from Nigeria in the 1970s. Today, she lives in a beautiful Leawood home and owns several rental homes, according to Jackson County, Mo., records.
Someone with that kind of prosperity may want to brag about their success. But in Hinton's case, she shies away from our repeated attempts to ask her questions.
A home that does not exist
Shontaine Sloan tried to rent a home in May after finding an online ad for a five bedroom section 8 rental home owned by Hinton. Sloan said she paid Hinton $1,770 dollars in cash for a security deposit before seeing the house. But then, Sloan realized there was a problem.
Sloan went to the Lee's Summit neighborhood expecting to find the rental home listed in the ad, but she could not find the address.
Call For Action also looked for the address and could not find it either after searching the neighborhood and county records.
Sloan said Hinton brought her to a different rental home that has only three bedrooms – not five. Inside, Sloan said she found items belonging to another tenant. She also said the utilities were off.
Sloan asked Hinton for her deposit back.
"She said ‘I'm not giving it back to you. Take me to court,'" Sloan recalls. "So I was like, ‘why can't I get my money back?' She was like, ‘I don't like the way you talk.'"
Hinton's history and deportation orders
A Call For Action investigation uncovered new details about Hinton's biggest court battle -- her legal fight to stay in this country.
She arrived from Nigeria in 1977 as Edy Ikenokwalu. She received permanent U.S. resident status twice. Both times, her status was revoked.
Federal court records show in the early 1980s, Hinton tried unsuccessfully to marry a 17-year-old man. Court documents state she then entered into a "sham" marriage with a man with "diminished mental capacity" to secure immigration benefits.
Court records reveal convictions in 1985 for theft and battery. She was convicted for welfare fraud in 1989 and 1991. Those convictions were later expunged. Records state Hinton "failed to establish good moral character."
In 2004, a federal immigration judge ordered Hinton to be deported back to Nigeria. Now, eight years later, Hinton remains in the metro because Nigeria refuses to take her back.
Jim Austin teaches immigration law at UMKC.
"There's a lot of different factors," Austin said when asked how an immigrant can stay in this country after a judge orders them to be deported. "The most obvious is the U.S. government is unable to secure permission from a foreign country to send that person home."
Deported immigrants staying in the U.S.
The Supreme Court ruled that the United States cannot hold or jail an immigrant under deportation orders indefinitely. After six months, they must be released from custody and allowed to stay in this country while immigration officials try to find another country to accept them.
Between 2008 and 2012, 21,784 immigrants ordered to be deported have been released to stay in the United States because another country will not accept them.
"The end result of those with all the reasons is the U.S. government left with the responsibility of holding this person," Austin said.
Hinton banned as section 8 landlord
In July, Call For Action reported that Hinton was banned as a section 8 landlord after pressuring another tenant, Candace Moore, into paying extra rent money. The Housing Authority of Kansas City sent Hinton a letter, stating Hinton collected more money than the lease allowed and that Hinton "submitted false documentation" to justify her actions.
"At first I thought nobody is ever going to know about her. But I've seen a lot of things change since the beginning," Moore said.
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Shontaine Sloan lives in a new home with her family. Her kids are now in school, and her life has a sense of normalcy. But days after Hinton was banned as a landlord by the Housing Authority, Hinton left a confusing voicemail message on Sloan's phone. At one point, Hinton indicated she wanted Sloan to pay her a year's rent.
"I need you to pay me for one year lease that you signed." Hinton said in the message.
At another point, Hinton wanted to refund Sloan the security deposit.
"I need your forwarding address so I can give you your money. I need your address," Hinton said.
The ad Sloan found online for the five-bedroom rental home that doesn't
exist, and lists Hinton as the owner, is still posted.
Sloan tried to collect her $1,770 security deposit in court, but an attempt to serve Hinton failed. Sloan says she cannot afford to go through the process again.
"My kids don't have clothes or shoes. I could have used that money for my kids," Sloan said.
Hinton's recent scrape with the law
One year ago, Hinton had another scrape with the law when Overland Park police arrested her at a JC Penney's store, charging her with theft and obstruction. Hinton requested a public defender stating she could not afford an attorney.
In her application, when asked if she received income from any rental property, Hinton answered no. However, the Housing Authority of Kansas City reports Hinton received $2,574 in rent payments from the agency that same month.
Those charges were dropped after Hinton was found unfit to stand trial.
Feds investigation of Hinton
Following the first Call For Action report on Hinton, the Grandview police, the HUD office of the Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security are conducting their own investigation.
HUD Fair Housing is also investigating a discrimination complaint filed by Hinton against the Housing Authority of Kansas City.