Two Chicago men were released on their own recognizance Wednesday after allegedly living in and renting out over two dozen foreclosed homes in a scheme Cook County State’s Anita Alvarez described as “disturbing” and “bold and brazen.”
Torrez Moore and David Farr, who identify as “anti-government sovereign citizens,” took advantage of the mortgage crisis and filed bogus documents with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds so they could pose as landlords, Alvarez said. She detailed the scam with other law enforcement officials involved in the investigation.
Self-styled “sovereign citizens” claim that federal and state laws do not apply to them.
Moore and Farr lived in two of the 14 dilapidated properties in question and changed locks so real estate agents couldn’t get inside, Assistant State’s Attorney Wayne Jakalski said.
The men also allegedly posted “No Trespassing” signs in front of the homes, where families lived — many knowing their occupancy was unlawful.
Eight to nine “squatters” were living in one of the single-family homes, Jakalski said. Most of the families paid $500 a month in rent, and Moore was tutoring the others in the scheme, Alvarez said.
“I was absolutely shocked by the outrageous acts,” Alvarez said after Moore and Farr appeared before Judge James Brown.
Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) also expressed his frustration at the alleged crimes, which affected eight homes in his ward.
O’Shea called the four men charged in the plot “a cancer.”
“They spread from block to block infecting high-quality, single-family homes and destabilizing our otherwise safe, quiet streets,” he said. “Throughout the course of this lengthy investigation, neighbors have lived with confusion, threats, intimidation and other associated criminal activity.”
On Wednesday, Brown recommended that Moore, 55, and Farr, 45, who is also known as Fahim Ali, be placed on electronic monitoring while they await trial on burglary, theft and financial institution fraud charges.
Arrest warrants have been issued for two others: Raymond Trimble, 52, of Markham, and Arshad Thomas, 26.
All fourteen properties have been boarded and secured, Alvarez said.
Moore was living at 10821 S. Wood Street, one of the homes targeted in the investigation, prosecutors said. He also claimed he owned four other homes: 10929 S. Esmond Street; 9022 South Indiana Ave.; 9147 S. Greenwood Ave.; and 4200 West Rosemont Ave.
Including the house in which Farr was living at 10941 S. Wood Street, he had illegal possession of eight homes, prosecutors said.
Those other seven homes are at: 9757 S. Damen Ave; 1635 W. 106th Street; 11220 S. Longwood Drive; 10329 S. Prospect Ave.; 11025 S. Esmond Street; 10350 S. Union Ave.; and 1334 N. Waller Ave.
Trimble allegedly claimed adverse possession of a home at 5501 N. Virginia Ave.