A Cobb County judge sentenced two convicted squatters to lengthy prison sentences Friday. One woman was ordered to spend 20 years behind bars and her accomplice will spend 10, the Cobb County District Attorney said.
Susan Lorraine Weidman, 52, of Kennesaw, was sentenced to 40 years, with 20 years to serve in prison and the rest on probation, DA Vic Reynolds said. Weidman told the court the situation "was a failure to communicate between me and law enforcement."
Co-defendant, Matthew Lowery, 29, of Alpharetta, was sentenced to 20 years, with 10 years to serve in prison.
Cobb Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole sentenced the pair one week after the two were convicted for stealing houses.
Weidman was convicted of three counts of violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, and Lowery was found guilty of two RICO violations. The two were part of a larger crime ring that targeted vacant homes in various counties, according to prosecutors.
"Ms. Weidman, as the ringleader, brought a lot of pain to a lot of people," Deputy Chief ADA John Melvin, who prosecuted the case, told the court." You see a pattern of activity over several years in which Ms. Weidman refuses to get it."
Prosecutors contend that Weidman entered a vacant Decatur home, changed the locks and filed fake documents with the Clerk of Superior Court in DeKalb County to claim the property, the DA's office said. She then lied to law enforcement, investigators said.
Lowery and others occupied a house on Shade Tree Way in Cumming, and when challenged by a real estate firm, Weidman sent a signed letter from a nonexistent law firm and lawyer on behalf of a phony property-management firm threatening legal action, Reynolds' office said.
In January, a father and son each pleaded guilty to RICO charges for their involvement in the same scheme.
Ian Greye was sentenced to 10 years, two of which he must serve in prison, Reynolds previously said. Giulio Greye was sentenced to five years and must also serve two years in prison.
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