Sunday, February 26, 2012

Central Florida Adverse Possession-Claiming Vacant Home Hijacker Dodges Prison Time With Plea Deal; Gets Two Years House Arrest, Five Years Probation

In Tampa, Florida, News Channel 8 reports:

  • During the past few years, George Williams and his company, Brevkam Ventures, laid claim to several vacant homes throughout Hillsborough County. He said Florida's adverse possession law allowed him to break into the houses, move in tenants and collect rent without the knowledge or permission of the property owners.

  • He was wrong. Williams, 42, was arrested a year ago, and this week he pleaded guilty to organized fraud, six counts of grand theft and five counts of burglary. His plea deal with the State Attorney's Office calls for two years of house arrest and five years probation, but no jail time.

  • "We thought it was a fair resolution," Assistant State Attorney Mark Cox said. Cox said this was not an easy case. "A lot of tenants and homeowners had no interest in being involved in this case anymore," he said.

  • The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which poured resources and time into the investigation, had no comment on the plea deal. An investigator said he is disappointed Williams did not go to prison.


  • An 8 On Your Side investigation found Williams' Brevkam Ventures was one of three companies gobbling up vacant properties in the Tampa Bay area. The others were Chateau Lan, run by Chris McDonald, 47, of Plant City, and Homes for Americans, run by Joel McNair of Sarasota.

  • McDonald and McNair both claimed that by taking over vacant houses, their companies were helping neighbors, property owners, banks and people looking for low-cost housing. McNair, facing multiple charges of organized fraud, committed suicide in May.

  • The Florida Attorney General's office filed organized fraud charges against McDonald last December. McDonald told News Channel 8 he had taken possession of at least 20 houses in Hillsborough County. McDonald failed to show up for a January hearing. An arrest warrant was issued. A squad of detectives located him in Valrico on Thursday morning and arrested him.

For the story, see Man pleads guilty in vacant homes plot.

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