Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "unpaid" ...

  • Driven Into Debt

    This ongoing series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • ProPublica Illinois: Driven Into Debt

    This series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • Detroit's Foreclosure Meltdown

    This series investigated the impact of a decade of mortgage foreclosures on Detroit neighborhoods by tracking the fate of nearly 65,000 bank foreclosed homes. We found that subprime lending and bargain-basement sales of these homes contributed to a $500 million loss for the city in unpaid property taxes and demolition costs. http://www.detroitnews.com/topic/046a3a7c-ed6d-4afb-876a-d7800dd4a513/detroits-foreclosure-meltdown/
  • No Parking

    The City of Salt Lake is short millions of dollars in unpaid parking citations. The KSL Investigators dug around looking into the worst offenders, and found a government agency topping the list... several times over. More specifically, the United States Postal Service. They owe the city a lot of money and refuse to pay up. So, how are postal workers getting away with it?
  • The secret world of government debt collection

    CNNMoney’s report, The Secret World of Government Debt Collection, exposes an industry rife with political corruption, aggressive tactics and legal loopholes. In this world, forgotten tolls can snowball into hundreds of dollars in debt and unpaid speeding tickets can land people in jail. We found that thanks to legal exemptions, collectors working for government agencies typically don’t have to follow the main federal law that regulates the debt collection industry, and state consumer protection laws often don’t apply either. All of this opens the door for steep fees that other debt collectors couldn’t dream of charging, and allows them to threaten consequences as dire as arrest. The report focused on one of the industry’s biggest players, Texas-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. Through our reporting, we uncovered this little-known firm’s massive influence and controversial political ties. For example, Linebarger spends more on state lobbying than Texas giants Exxon and Halliburton, and it pours millions of dollars into political campaigns. It even has current elected officials on its payroll and has become entangled in multiple bribery scandals. CNNMoney discovered it is also currently linked to an ongoing FBI investigation. But Linebarger continues to rake in lucrative government contracts, making its top executives and founders rich while the debtors it goes after are left scrambling to pay its steep fees. And because firms like Linebarger are powered by government agencies, consumers are left with little recourse.
  • Detroit's foreclosure meltdown

    This series investigated the impact of a decade of mortgage foreclosures on Detroit neighborhoods by tracking the fate of nearly 65,000 bank foreclosed homes. We found that subprime lending and bargain-basement sales of these homes contributed to a $500 million loss for the city in unpaid property taxes and demolition costs.
  • The Man Behind the Closing Curtains

    A six-month Naples Daily News investigation exposed the dark past of theater creator James Duffy. An analysis of media reports, court records, company filings and interviews linked Duffy to 88 theaters in 26 states. Fifty-eight of the theaters either never opened or were open less than three years. A nationwide court case search found James Duffy or his companies have been sued at least 69 times and been ordered to pay at least $24.6 million in judgments since 1982. Duffy’s business convinced property owners to pay millions of dollars up-front for the construction or renovation of their theaters. His companies raked in ticket and concession sales from theaters that did open, but didn’t pay rent or other bills and abandoned theaters as lawsuits were filed. Contractors that should have been paid with the fronted renovation money went unpaid, as did investors, lenders, film distributors and even the lawyers who represented Duffy or his companies when they were sued. Numerous employees have also complained of not being paid.
  • Strings Attached

    One of Tampa’s largest homeless charities, New Beginnings of Tampa, for years made money off its destitute residents through a legally questionable “work therapy” program. Homeless people -- including the mentally ill and addicted -- were required to work unpaid concessions shifts at professional sporting events and concerts, and in construction, telemarketing, and a bevy of other industries in exchange for shelter. While claiming to provide counseling to the homeless sent to the charity by local law enforcement, hospitals, and the courts, the charity employed no one clinically trained to counsel the mentally ill or addicted, and required residents to sign over food stamps, Social Security checks, and any other income. Many former residents said they worked there for months -- and should have earned more than they owed in rent -- but were never paid.
  • Profiting Off the Poor

    This series of columns examines the damage caused by repeated abuses of Texas adverse possession laws by companies headed by Douglas T. "Chase" Fonteno. The series outlines the complex nature of Fonteno's interlocking businesses and the web of deceit that helped hide his real estate transactions from county, state and federal agencies. He claimed deeds to other people's houses, without the real owners' knowledge or consent, and sold those houses to unsuspecting people who, in almost all cases, were poor, uneducated and often spoke little English. The series uncovered millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and liens, along with other nefarious activities that appear to have included document forgery and misuse of a Texas notary stamp. Fonteno's antics helped delay urban development in one of Dallas's most downtrodden urban neighborhoods.
  • Delinquent Mines

    In a joint investigation, NPR and Mine Safety and Health News found that American coal and mineral mining companies that had failed to pay $70 million in delinquent mine safety penalties - most for years, some for decades, and some while defying federal court orders to pay - committed 131,000 violations, reported nearly 4,000 injuries and had an injury rate 50% higher than mines that paid their penalties, exposing a loophole in federal regulation and enforcement that places miners at risk.