"Landlord" Rents Out House That Doesn't Belong to Him

It's not the most sophisticated real estate scheme...

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officials say Ozell Neely rented out a house that didn't belong to him.

    It was an abandoned house that didn't belong to him -- but a Baldwin man rented it out to an unsuspecting tenant anyway, Nassau county prosecutors said.

    Ozell Neely, 45, was arrested early Tuesday and charged with burglary and grand larceny.

    Adding insult to injury, prosecutors say, Neely actually sued the tenant after the woman stopped paying rent because of Neely's refusal to fix up the apartment.

    "His crime does not rank up there with the most sophisticated and it certainly wasn’t the most clever real estate fraud we have seen," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a press statement. "But for a brief period in time, it worked and he profited."

    The alleged scam began in September, 2008 when prosecutors say Neely brought the tenant to the boarded up home. He claimed he had lost his key and allegedly ripped down the boards and used bolt cutters to cut through a chain link blocking access to the house.

    There was no refrigerator and no water in the home; but the tenant still agreed to a monthly rent of $2200, if Neely repaired the house, prosecutors said.  Before she stopped paying rent, Neely had allegedly collected more than ten thousand dollars from her.

    Law enforcement became involved in June, when the property's real owner received a tip that someone was living there and approached the tenant.

    Neely is expected to be arraigned on the charges later Tuesday.  He faces up to seven years in prison.