Wellington resident Kesner Joaseus appeared to do brisk business, leasing single-family houses across Broward and Palm Beach counties—except for one hitch: The properties weren’t his to rent.
Joaseus collected more than $380,000 in rental income from vacant houses he entered and leased without the owner’s permission over about a two-year period beginning in November 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The property belonged to Georgia-based RHA 2 LLC, a real estate investment trust that operates as HavenBrook Homes and has holdings in Minnesota, Florida, Alabama and its home state. But Joaseus and accomplices created a company with a similar name, RHA Two LLC, assumed the Georgia firm’s identity, posted rental signs on its houses, cut lockboxes and entered contracts with tenants who thought they were doing business with the real owner. They used a fake HavenBrook Homes logo and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits.
Joaseus was one of three Palm Beach County residents, including Wadno Dorneau and Miguel Tilus, arrested and charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
He pleaded guilty in July to charges in two consolidated fraud cases, but federal prosecutors say he also had a second income stream: pilfering identities to obtain credit cards for cash advances, two Mercedes-Benz vehicles and other purchases totaling $260,000.
U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg Wednesday sentenced Joaseus, 47, to 11 years in prison for the two scams, including two 108-month sentences to be served concurrently for the real estate fraud and a consecutive two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren Jorgensen and Rinku Tribuiani in West Palm Beach prosecuted.
A co-defendant in a related case, former Palm Beach County Deputy Frantz Felisma, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and access device fraud for using law enforcement databases and equipment to access Social Security numbers and other information for the ID theft ring.