Man in foreclosed home scam sentenced to jail time

July 15, 2013 9:00:00 PM PDT
A Raleigh man accused of squatting in several high-end Wake County homes was sentenced to 44 to 62 months in prison Friday.

Shawn Pendergraft was arrested after the ABC I-Team exposed his attempt to take over the homes using an obscure law called "adverse possession."

Jurors convicted Pendergraft of breaking and entering, obtaining property by false pretenses, and trespassing Thursday.

He sat quietly Thursday afternoon as the prosecutor told jurors that the case has nothing to do with the seldom used adverse possession law.

Earlier in the day, Pendergraft's attorney argued to jurors for more than an hour. He said his client was following the law when he tried to take over a vacant $850,000 home south of Raleigh in 2011, by moving in and filing paperwork with the register of deeds office.

Pendergraft and five others also did the same thing at several other Wake County homes including some multi-million dollar properties in Wakefield.

The prosecutor told jurors that the adverse possession law didn't shield Pendergraft from being convicted of the three charges against him. He added that if Pendergraft is right, that simply occupying a vacant home for a period of time makes you the owner -- then all other homeowners have been duped.

"There's no need to pay a mortgage.  There's no need to sign a contract, go through a real estate process," said prosecutor Jason Waller. "If you follow Mr. Pendergraft's theory, there's no need to do all that.  Just go take it.  Just go take somebody else's property."

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