Two self-proclaimed “sovereign citizens” could face up to 40 years in prison after being convicted of a scheme to take control of homes they didn’t own, the Cobb County District Attorney said.
Susan Lorraine Weidman, 52, of Kennesaw, was convicted of three counts of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, DA Vic Reynolds said Friday afternoon. Matthew Lowery, 29, of Alpharetta, 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.
“The ludicrous ‘explanations’ these defendants gave for going into vacant houses and trying to claim them as their own defies common sense, and the jurors saw that,” John Melvin, deputy chief assistant district attorney, said in an emailed statement. “Ms. Weidman went so far as to create a fictitious law firm and assume fake names. If she believed what she was doing was legal, as she claimed, she wouldn’t have to lie about 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.
Sentencing for the pair is scheduled for March 7 at 1:30 p.m.
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.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.