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Alicia Jackson could not figure out the smell. The fridge was gone and all the trash had been thrown out. Where in the house could that rotting smell come from?
Jackson and her husband Jermaine had recently come back to the home after leaving it vacant for some time. The Jacksons were dealing with financial trouble and were expecting the bank to seize the property. Only someone beat them to it.
When they returned, they found renters living in the house. Confused and angry, the Jacksons demanded answers. They learned a man named Eric Alpert had somehow taken over the house and rented it out.
The renters eventually left, but the house was ransacked. There was a hole in one of the walls. Alicia found the smell. Someone had filled the hole with raw ground beef.
For half a decade, Eric Alpert has been living life along a thin line of the law. In 2004, he lost his real estate license after renting out homes without proper authority. He claimed he was making payments on the taxes and was able to control them.
Even with his license pulled, Alpert continued to rent out properties, as many as 54 according to documents obtained by the I-Team. He changed company names -- Sherlock Homes, Klark Kounty Records, Diddie Limited Partnership.
One of the houses belonged to the Jacksons. "We didn't expect people to be living in the home," Alicia Jackson said.
The Jacksons said the house was going through default, but the bank had not taken it over yet. During that time, they believe Alpert found the house through Clark County Recorder records and broke in to take it over.
"It's like somebody cracked (the window) enough to get in, and then they put foil over it to cover it up. And then they got in and changed the locks," Jermaine said.
When confronted, Alpert did not apologize, according to Jackson. "Basically just because the home is abandoned he felt that he could rent it out," Alicia Jackson said.
The Jacksons were not alone. At 11 Sunny Day in North Las Vegas, Nichole Phillips thought she found a cheap rental. She, too, rented from Alpert's company. She started raising questions after getting no fixes on rotting plumbing under the sink or the jumper cables being used to hijack power from NV Energy's main line.
"It seemed very cagey," Phillips said.
Eventually the owner showed up the house and Phillips knew Alpert had done something wrong. "I felt awful inside. I felt like I had really been had," she said.
She demanded all her money back and after the first check bounced, the second one cleared. She still went to police to expose Alpert, just as the Jacksons had done before her. "You gotta be heartless to want to screw people out of their money," Phillips said.
Arrest After All
Wednesday afternoon, Alpert's run of rentals came to an end. "It's certainly brazen in any circumstance," said Chrissie Coon, North Las Vegas Police spokesperson.
Detectives arrested Alpert and charged him with 22 different felonies:
Four counts of burglary
Four counts of theft
Four counts obtaining money under false pretenses
Seven counts of forgery
Three counts of offering a false instrument to be filed
Alpert is now booked in the North Las Vegas Detention Center. If prosecuted fully, he could face up 147 years in prison with nearly $200,000 in fines. Police would like to hear from more victims, either victimized homeowners or renters. They can be contacted at 702-633-9111 or CrimeStoppers at 702-385-5555.
If you have more information you would like to share with Jonathan Humbert, email him or find him on Twitter at jonhumbert.
Monday, September 1 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:06:07 GMT
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