Man sentenced for selling, renting homes he didn't own

May 16, 2017 10:51 AM

TROY -- The man who pleaded guilty to renting and selling Capital Region homes he didn't own, was sentenced Monday in Rensselaer County Court.

Zarak Ali is going to state prison for four to 12 years.  Unshaven and dressed in Albany County Jail orange, Ali told Judge Andrew Ceresia he was sorry.

"I'm sorry about what I did. I will never do this again in the future. I hope to come out as a better person," said Ali.

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Ali made it appear as though he took ownership of dozens of properties in five Capital Region counties. He then rented or sold the properties to unsuspecting victims. Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Carl Rosenkranz says some of them eventually had to be evicted by the real owners, even after paying the rent to Ali, or worse, paying Ali to buy the house.

"We had a mother with a total of $5000 to her name give it to him thinking she's buying a house," said Frank Merola, Rensselaer County Clerk.  

Ali was working through county clerk's offices to make it appear as though he took ownership of properties. He used quitclaim deeds targeting properties going through the foreclosure process. Homes often sit vacant for years while the cases make their way through the legal system.

"He made it look like a bona fide transfer from a trust in the name of the owner to the trust in the actual address of the property, with himself as a trustee of both," said Rosenkranz, Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney.   

When county clerk's office started to notice the volume of deed transfers, they looked a little closer.  

"He was adamant in the fact that he thought he was doing something legal. Of course, as we saw in court, it was definitely illegal," said Merola.  

Ali agreed to a plea deal in five Capital Region Counties. On Friday in Albany County Court, he was sentenced to four to 12 years in state prison. That sentence will run concurrently with Monday's Rensselaer County sentence of three to nine years.  

"We were glad to see that he was finally brought to justice and he’s going to serve time because he was really hurting some families that really couldn’t afford what he was doing to them," said  Merola.

Ali will also be required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in restitution. He is scheduled to be sentenced this month in Saratoga, Schenectady and Columbia Counties.

Ali is currently in the Albany County Jail but could be taken into the state prison system to begin his sentence at any time.


Asa Stackel

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