Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jury Convicts Suspect On 34 Counts In Home-Hijacking Racket That Commandeered Possession Of Vacant Homes, Then Rented Them To Tenants

In Cobb County, Georgia, WSB-TV Channel 2 reports:

  • A Cobb County jury convicted a man accused of taking over homes on the verge of foreclosure and renting them to unsuspecting tenants. Jurors found John Harris, the CEO of New Life Granted, guilty of 34 counts, including racketeering, burglary, theft, forgery and criminal trespass. It’s believed there were more than 20 victims in the case.

  • Harris testified on his own behalf [], stating that his company would find homes that looked abandoned take them over and then move in their own tenants. His company promised to help people facing foreclosure by restoring their credit and finding them a place to live – the abandoned homes.
  • Police discovered what Harris was doing when the real homeowners showed up. Harris said that’s when he’d remove his signs and move tenants out of the home.

  • Harris told jurors that he started to have second thoughts about his business model, but prosecutors said that only came after he placed tenants and collected rent. “I no longer felt comfortable taking over the houses as I was, so I was making a more concerted effort to get quit-claim deeds or leases,” Harris said. Four other people were charged in the case.

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