Authorities released photos Tuesday of two men wanted as part of a scheme that saw foreclosed homes illegally occupied and rented out in Chicago.
Arrest warrants issued for Raymond Trimble, 51; and Arshad Thomas, 26, accuse them of theft, burglary and other crimes, according to the Chicago Police Financial Crimes Unit.
Trimble and Thomas, along with co-defendants Torrez Moore and David Farr, identify themselves as “anti-government sovereign citizens,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported previously. Self-pronounced “sovereign citizens” claim federal and state laws do not apply to them.
Prosecutors claim they took advantage of the mortgage crisis to file bogus documents with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds so they could pose as landlords.
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 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 on the scheme, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita 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 also expressed his frustration at the alleged crimes, which affected eight homes in his 19th Ward.
O’Shea called the four men “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—also known as Fahim Ali—be placed on electronic monitoring while they await trial.
Trimble and Thomas remained at large as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Chicago Police. Anyone with information on their whereabouts should call 911.