HOUSTON (KIAH) — A 54-year-old Alvin man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for stealing properties from elderly and deceased owners and then selling those properties to unsuspecting buyers, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced this weekend.
Juchway Rhodes Jr. was convicted by a jury Thursday of Aggregate Theft of More than $300,000, a first-degree felony, after a five-day trial. Because he was a habitual offender, he faced a minimum of 25 years up to life in prison for stealing a total of $442,000 in cash and property.
After he was convicted, Rhodes agreed to a 40-year prison sentence instead of letting a jury or a judge determine punishment.
“When a scammer perpetuates this kind of fraud, it creates two classes of victims: the true owners and the unsuspecting buyers,” Ogg said. “He often preyed on Spanish speakers who paid for property in cash and may not have understood the system.”
Assistant District Attorney Valerie Turner, chief of the DA’s Consumer Fraud section, said Rhodes used forged or fraudulent deeds.
“He was no better than a snake-oil salesman, selling fraudulent goods,” Turner said. “Those fraudulent goods were land, and he knew he didn’t own them.”
In court, Rhodes tried to blame the title companies, Turner said.
“But you can’t take a forged or fraudulent deed, run it through a title company and somehow clean it up,” she said. “He knew that, but he did it anyway.”