A former city cop who just retired from the NYPD was charged with running a rent scam in Ozone Park that conned nearly a dozen would-be renters out of thousands of dollars, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Former police officer Burbran Pierre, 42, was arraigned Friday, Nov. 19, before Queens Criminal Court Judge Mary Bejarano on a complaint charging him with grand larceny and two counts of scheme to defraud.
According to the charges, nearly a dozen people responded to a Craigslist advertisement online touting a basement apartment available for rent. On March 20, 2020, a woman spotted the ad and responded indicating she was interested in renting the basement unit on 95th Street in Ozone Park.
Pierre showed the apartment to the victim, who agreed to a yearlong lease and signed the paperwork. A couple of weeks later, the woman used a mobile app to send Pierre $2,300. However, when it was time to move in on June 1, the defendant allegedly told her the previous tenant had not yet moved out. The victim eventually asked for a refund of her $2,300. Pierre allegedly gave her a check for the amount she was owed, but the check was returned by the bank for insufficient funds.
Katz said Pierre allegedly repeated this scenario with 10 other prospective renters. Just before each move-in date, Pierre would allegedly offer an excuse as to why the new renter could not move in, such as building code violations, plumbing issues, infestation of mice or the current tenant had not yet vacated.
According to the charges, in April 2021, a woman gave Pierre $2,400 to cover the first month’s rent and security deposit. She was supposed to move in on May 1. But as that date approached, Pierre allegedly told the victim she could not move in and told her he would not be returning her money and that she would have to sue him to get her money back. Another woman who had been allegedly duped tried calling Pierre only to realize he had blocked her number on his phone.
Several weeks ago, Pierre retired from the NYPD and moved from Ozone Park to Minnesota. He was arrested in Minneapolis and returned to Queens on Thursday, Nov. 18.
“The NYPD has zero tolerance for corruption of any kind and the crimes of this former officer is charged with represent a disgraceful violation of his oath of office and the public trust,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “Our NYPD investigators in the Internal Affairs Bureau, together with prosecutors in the Queens district attorney’s office, worked tirelessly to ensure a measure of justice was achieved in this case.”
Judge Bejarano ordered Pierre to return to court on Jan 27. If convicted, Pierre faces up to four years in prison.
“This defendant was an active member of law enforcement when he allegedly conned 11 people, who were just looking for a place to call home, out of an average of $2,200 each,” Katz said. “The defendant recently retired and relocated to another state, but he has been extradited and now faces very serious charges here in Queens County.”
Katz added that, if anyone believes they may have been victimized in a scheme of this nature, they can call her office at 718-286-6560.