JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former mayoral candidate Warren Lee is in the Duval County jail after he and two others were arrested on various charges relating to a real estate scheme.
Sheriff John Rutherford at a news conference spelled out details on the organized effort that he said Lee headed up.
"These people simply moved into these vacant residences and claimed them as their own and then became landlords of these residences which they never truly owned," said Rutherford.
Lee and Rhonda Petite Johnson were arrested for organized fraud. Cleveland Xavier Stephens was arrested for grand theft. Police are still looking for a fourth suspect, Marcellous Dunbar.
Rutherford said the police investigation started last summer when residents complained of suspicious activity at a home in the 2900 block of Sunset Landing Drive located in the Amelia View subdivision.
Police reports reveal that Lee said the property they acquired was through a process known as "adverse possession."
State Attorney Angela Corey says this law did not apply to what happened in this case.
"This is about getting around the law and basically stealing and we are not going to tolerate it," said Corey.
Rutherford suspects there may be other instances of this happening on the First Coast. He advises anyone who is renting property and suspects something to check out the county property appraiser's website to verify who owns the property.
If there are red flags, Rutherford says the department's Economic Crimes Unit is willing to help. The phone number is 630-2175.
First Coast News