A Tri-City con artist is facing at least five years in prison for using his corporation to file liens on empty houses and a car, then claiming he owned them.
Corey Javon Williams, 38, was convicted by two Benton County juries in the past two weeks in the unrelated cases, though they involved the same scheme. He was convicted in 2013 of similar crimes.
Williams used his corporation — C. Williams Group LLC — to file the liens last fall on properties in Kennewick.
Then the Kennewick man, who also goes by Corey Pugh, would argue the liens gave him some interest in the property that allowed him to rent it out, according to Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor and court documents.
The scheme involved filing false lien against a Kennewick home, claiming ownership in the property so he could rent it out.
In one case, the home was owned by a couple, but the wife was unable to keep up with the payments after her husband’s death. She voluntarily left the home in anticipation of the mortgage company foreclosing on it, but that never happened, so the house sat empty, Bloor said.
The woman remained the full, legal owner, despite Williams’ claims, he said.
Kennewick police were alerted to the scam by the utility companies, which watch for people attempting to restart a utility in a name other than the owner. The companies also reportedly recognized Williams’ name from his previous cases, Bloor said.
In one trial, the jury took less than two hours to return guilty verdicts for residential burglary and second-degree theft. Williams, who served as his own lawyer, was acquitted on another count of residential burglary.
The second jury found him guilty of taking a vehicle without permission in September after he rented a 2015 Ford Mustang and didn’t bring it back. After numerous calls from Budget, he told the company he filed a lien against the bank that financed the Ford.
The car eventually was recovered.
Williams’ criminal history includes four counts of theft and one each of criminal trespass, attempted theft and theft.
Bloor said because of Williams’ record, he faces a sentencing range of five to seven years. The theft carries a range of up to two years and five months.
Bloor doesn’t yet know what he will recommend at the March 3 sentencing, but said he and Deputy Prosecutor Diana Ruff plan to ask that the prison terms on the two cases be served back to back for a minimum of nearly nine years. The second sentencing is March 23.
In 2013, Williams was caught fraudulently leasing foreclosed homes he advertised online to would-be renters. He would break into the homes, re-key the locks and present himself as the owner in Craigslist rental ads.
Bloor said in those cases there was evidence that Williams was finding the homes by looking at bankruptcy listings. It is not known how Williams picked the target homes in the recent case, he said.
Williams remains in the Benton County jail.