Foreclosed home illegally rented out, family scammed

October 2, 2013 8:30:15 PM PDT
Gisselle Bond thought she'd found the ideal house in Roselle. It had just been renovated, on a nice block, and seemed to be the perfect place to raise her family.

There was only one problem. The so-called landlord had no business renting the place out.

"He portrayed to be the owner of this house and now I'm homeless. I have nowhere to go," Bond said.

Prosecutors say 37-year-old Barton Hodge basically stole the house which was vacant and in foreclosure after the previous owner died three years ago.

Hodge, investigators say, gut renovated the home and then advertised it for rent on Craigslist. Eventually he rented it out to Bond, for $1,600 a month.

"He's a con artist," Bond said.

It wasn't until she received a gas bill addressed to the deceased former owner that she did some research and found a copy of the deed, which is not in Hodge's name.

She went to the police, who say they found at least one more house he had illegally rented out.

"To tell you the truth, I don't know what to think," Bond said.

It's all a little confusing to Yvon Noel, the next door neighbor, who says Hodge seemed like the model citizen, and fixed a fence after some tree damage.

And if the alternative would be for the house to sit vacant, Noel says the fraud might actually have benefited people like him.

"If it's maintained well its better than if it's abandoned, abandoned is no good, at the same time the way he possessed the house is no good either," Noel said.

Hodge is being held on $50,000 bond.