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Long IslandCrime

Man posing as landlord collected rent even after arrest

A Medford man who rented out homes he didn't own continued to collect rent from unsuspecting tenants even after he was arrested in February on fraud and burglary charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday at the man's sentencing in Riverhead.

Paul Salamone, 28, was sentenced Tuesday to 4 to 12 years in prison by Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson, who ordered Salamone to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to his victims.

Salamone, filed phony liens against seven homeowners in the midst of foreclosure proceedings, falsely claiming they owed him money, prosecutors said. He fixed up two of those homes, in Medford and East Patchogue, then rented them to tenants, prosecutors said.

Insisting he owned the homes, Salamone removed signs and changed the locks to keep homeowners and bank and real estate agents from entering the properties, prosecutor Marc Lindemann said.

"This was not an isolated incident," he said in court. "It was a carefully calculated scheme that targeted vulnerable Suffolk County residents facing foreclosure and that left the county and the state riddled with false liens supported by nonexistent debt."

Salamone was convicted following a three-week trial in July on two counts each of third-degree burglary and fourth-degree grand larceny and one count of fraud.

Salamone's attorney, Eric Naiburg of Central Islip, called the verdict "one of the worst I'd seen in many, many years."

"I still believe in my client's innocence and hopefully will have him out of jail when I file my appeal," he said in an interview.

At the trial, Naiburg said Salamone was "dumb," but believed he had found a legal way of renting the properties.

Salamone placed dogs on the properties to scare off real estate agents and continued to collect rent after his indictment, Lindemann said. Salamone's victims will have to apply to the state to have the false liens declared invalid, Lindemann said.