Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chicago-Area Man Using 'Sovereign Citizen' Pretext In Scheme To Snatch & Rent Dozens Of Vacant Foreclosures Gets 14 Years Prison Time After Jury Trial; Two Other Co-Conspirators Cop Guilty Pleas, Get Approx. 4 Years Each; One Defendant Still Awaits Sentencing

In Chicago, Illinois, DNAinfo (Chicago) reports:
  • One of the ringleaders behind a plot to illegally rent houses they did not own in Beverly and Morgan Park was sentenced Monday [May 22] to 14 years in prison, according to court records.

    Cook County Judge Alfredo Maldonado handed down the sentence to David Farr, 47, of Englewood. He was found guilty Sept. 30 of theft, financial institution fraud and continuing a financial crimes enterprise.

    Farr — who also goes by Fahim Ali, Jalani Ali and Sekou Ali — must serve at least seven years before he becomes eligible for parole. He was credited with serving nearly two years in Cook County Jail while awaiting trial, court records show.

    "This sentence sends a strong message to those who would seek to commit crimes in our community," Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) said Tuesday afternoon in an email to constituents.

    Farr was found guilty of a scheme that dates to 2012 involving dozens of homes on the Far Southwest Side. Others involved in the plot include Torrez Moore, Raymond Trimble and Trimble's son, Arshad Thomas.

    Moore, 57, was convicted in Oct. 22 of theft, financial institution fraud and continuing a financial crimes enterprise. He has not yet been sentenced, and his next court date is June 26, court records show.

    Trimble pleaded guilty to theft in December and received a four-year prison sentence. He was credited with serving more than a year in Cook County Jail while awaiting trial and his expected parole date is Dec. 5.

    His son, Arshad Thomas, 27, took a plea deal in March 15 and was sentenced to 45 months in prison. He is expected to be released on parole June 16, according to state records.

    Prosecutors during the trial said that Moore and Farr consider themselves Sovereigns or Moors and thus do not recognize the U.S. government. As a part of this belief, they also think banks should not be allowed to own homes.

    Armed with this theory, Farr filed paperwork with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office. Those involved in the plot would then break into the homes, change the locks and post "No Trespassing" signs.

    Other squatters then moved into the homes, and some paid rent to the men behind the scheme. A few of the illegal tenants even went as far as planting flowers outside the homes they were illegally occupying and signing up for utilities, O'Shea said.

    "We should not be arrested, or even put in jail, for beautifying vacant properties across the city," Farr told a judge on July 22, 2015.

    Then-Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said during the trial most of the renters knew they were living in these homes illegally. And many refused to leave when police asked them to, prosecutors said.

    O'Shea said the investigation was prompted by complaints from area residents who noticed suspicious activities in the houses, many of which were unoccupied after going into foreclosure.

    "I'd like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cook County State's Attorney's Office and the Chicago Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit for their ongoing efforts on this case. Working together, we can keep our community strong and safe for the future," O'Shea said.