Meet Sonny Jimenez, the Real Estate and Plagiarism King of Houston
Let's say you want to be a real estate broker in Houston, but you're a bit of a fuckin' idiot.
Relying on underhanded tactics online in the hope that it'll drive traffic your way, you create a Web site called, oh, Texasrealtypros.com, and then, in a section of alleged client reviews and testimonials, you copy and paste testimonials from a real estate Web site based in Oregon. So you have a bunch of people talking about how much they dig their homes in Eugene, because you're too dumb-slash-lazy to find-slash-replace.
You also start a Facebook page, called Houston Heights, and you post links to stories from other sites, only they don't link to the original source, they link to Texasrealtypros.com, and, in many cases do not credit the source. (In your page's "About" section, you paste copy ripped from a Southern Living article).
You're also too lazy-slash-dumb to check to see if they're current; so you wind up doing things like lifting a January 2012 Houston Business Journal article about D'Amico's Italian Cafe proudly weathering the tough economy on July 2, 2013, the day the restaurant announces its closure to Eater.
That comes on the heels of pirating a three-year-old Houston Press Eating our Words blog piece on the top ten Heights restaurants, by which point half the restaurants are no longer in business.
Then the editor of the Houston Press calls and asks what's up. You kinda blow her off. Because you are, after all, Sonny Jimenez, self-proclaimed "Real Estate King," and, as evidenced in a YouTube clip of you wearing a porkpie hat and gold chain while partying with the ladiez, you're just that cool.
So here's what Press Editor in Chief Margaret Downing says about you: "The Houston Press has made repeated attempts to get Mr. Jimenez to stop lifting our stories wholesale. He briefly stopped, but resumed, and when told to cut it out again, he promised to take care of it. The only difference has been that he now attaches a line at the bottom of our stories on his site, saying where he took them from." (This apparently applies only to recently lifted stories).
So the Press decides to send you a cease and desist letter -- similar to one you received from Viula Torgerson, a Heights resident and writer behind the Heights Life Facebook and Twitter pages, after you ripped off her shit. The Press has to do a little digging for your address because you don't actually work out of an office, and, contrary to Texas Real Estate Commission rules, you have not provided a fixed, permanent address on the TREC's site, only a post office box.
When a Houston Press reporter calls to ask you about this stuff, you schedule a time for an interview. Then you blow off the interview. Then you disconnect your "office" phone number, because that's what legit real estate brokers do -- they disconnect their phone numbers after a reporter calls. Probably while wearing a porkpie hat.
However, you do take the time to respond to e-mails by writing, "Thank you for your consideration, however at this time I am not interested in an article about me or my company. Thank you for your time, and best of luck to you. =)." When the reporter tells you the article's going to run regardless, you write back: "I understand my attorney has asked me to let him know when it does."
When the Press reporter asks for your attorney's name and number, you don't give it.
As far as you're concerned, there's just no thing as bad publicity. After all, you seem to be doing okay in real estate -- a career you chose after your previous company, a wheel-rim affair called Rimstop, tanked, and you filed for bankruptcy.
Your business, which was also called My Auto Stop, had an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston; according to a BBB record filed along with a customer's civil suit in 2005, My Auto Stop had 74 customer complaints between September 2002 and June 2005, 40 of those in the last 12 months alone.
According to the BBB's file, "Consumers state they are ordering merchandise and not receiving it in a reasonable amount of time. Some...consumers become frustrated and attempt to cancel the order. Rimstop charges a 25% restocking fee for all returns and/or cancellations, and 35% restocking/cancellation on all special orders, plus any shipping cost incurred."
But lucky for you, you were able to file bankruptcy in 2006. Because you owed a shit-ton of money. A shit-ton. We're talking $9,835 to a Florida company that handled Rim Stop's merchant services; $72,648 to a similar company in New York; $1,600 in child support; $2,196 to the Harris County Toll Road Authority; $4,953 to the IRS; $4,000 to Southwestern Bell; $4,563 to an after-market wheel manufacturer; and more.
You have no shame, so you continue to hijack material. It doesn't make a lick of difference to you if Torgerson says something about Houston bloggers, like "We take our work seriously, we work hard to build a reputation, and it really sucks for us when somebody comes along and tries to...damage your reputation or be really dishonest...."
And you couldn't care less when Pam Haggard of the Eugene's Alternative Realtors site -- whose testimonials you stole -- says, "It's people like these guys that give real estate agents a bad name....I would suggest placing it in the hands of the local board of realtors for enforcement action."
Actually, the Press places it in the hands of the Texas Real Estate Commission, and asks for a comment. The TREC has no comment, other than to say that the Press can file a complaint if it so chooses.
But it's of course not the Press's place to file a complaint. So all the reporter does is write a long-winded rant about what a knob you are. You don your porkpie hat and get back to being Sonny Jimenez, Real Estate King. 'Cause you're just that fucking cool.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.