Rental scam suspect speaks out from jail

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A Fort Bend Co. man is behind bars, accused of renting out homes that weren't his (KTRK)

Kenneth Upchurch is charged with felony burglary. But he thinks prosecutors are using the charge to get him to stop renting homes he doesn't own.

"I'm not breaking and entering. I'm not swindling people. I'm not doing real estate without a license. No, I'm doing a legit business," said Upchurch during an interview today inside the Fort Bend County Jail with Eyewitness News Reporter Kevin Quinn.

Upchurch admits using laws of "adverse posession" to take control of vacant or foreclosed properties. Investigators say he's done it as many as 75 times at properties around the greater Houston area. Detectives say though that they can prove he broke into some of the homes and changed the locks, giving the new keys to tenants who would pay him as the landlord.

"He took advantage of the depressed economy and he takes advantage of people's hopes," said Fort Bend County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian Dasher. "It's not clear specifically what Upchurch is accused of stealing in the incident for which he is charged, investigators declined to say. He says there was nothing to steal from the home, located on Dogwood Bough Lane in Fresno, that it was vacant.

Nevertheless, as the burglary charge is a felony it could be a third strike for Upchurch if convicted. He's previously been convicted of two felonies in California.

If convicted he could be sentenced to anything from 25 years to life in prison.
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