A 40-year-old Chicago man involved in a “squatter scheme” where he illegally occupied and rented foreclosed properties was convicted on multiple felony charges following a complicated investigation and prosecution by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
David Farr, also known as Fahim Ali, was convicted by a jury on felony charges of theft, financial institution fraud and continuing a financial crimes enterprise, according to a statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. The jury returned the verdict after deliberating for 40 minutes after a six day trial at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building.
Farr was part of a group that illegally claimed foreclosed or vacant properties as their own to live in and rent out to others, the state’s attorney’s office said. Farr entered the properties, changed the locks and filed fraudulent documents with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office to verify ownership of the property.
The financial institutions that legally own the properties have had serious difficulties trying to reclaim or sell the property because they are still being occupied, according to the state’s attorney’s office.
The majority of the squatters are aware that their occupancy is unlawful and still refuse to leave. Many of the homes are in disrepair and realtors fear going to the properties where numerous “no trespassing” signs are posted, the state’s attorney’s office said.
Alvarez said the conviction is a “victory” for homeowners and residents in Chicago.
“These are bold and brazen financial crimes that wreak havoc in local communities and have the potential to destabilize neighborhoods across Chicago,” Alvarez said. “We are extremely pleased with today’s conviction because it sends a very strong message that this type of financial crime will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to investigators, Farr and the other men involved call themselves “Moors,” and are part of an anti-government group known as Sovereigns or Sovereign Citizens. They said that the government does not have jurisdiction over them and that they do not recognize most law enforcement agencies, the state’s attorney’s office said.
Similar charges are pending against Torrez Moore, of Chicago, and Raymond Trimble, of Markham, according to the state’s attorney’s office.