Ten persons, including a former Rockville couple, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on charges that they operated a phony apartment rental scheme in which the government claims an estimated 10,000 people were cheated out of $500,000 over a three-year period.
A similar indictment on conspiracy to commit false pretenses was returned by a grand jury in the District against most of the same individuals several years ago but was dismissed. That alleged swindle amounted to about $300,000, Illinois officials said.One of the accused, Jack Wein, 43, formerly of Rockville, surrendered to police last Tuesday in Michigan. His wife Susan also is charged in the indictment.
According to the Chicago indictments, between March 1976 and October 1978 Wein and others ran four rental agencies that accepted fees of between $40 and $100 from persons seeking apartments in the Chicago area. The team operated for most of that time in Chicago, but moved to Washington in August 1978 after a Chicago judge issued an injuction to close their operations in that area, Illinois officials said.
The Chicago indictments charged that the agencies gave only general locations of the apartments, not specific addresses. Telephone numbers allegedly were "controlled by the business" and clients usually were told the landlord was out or the apartment already rented, the indictments said. The suspects also used aliases, changed names and locations of their business to evade disgruntled clients.
The accused were charged with nine counts of wire fraud and eight counts of mail fraud, offenses carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or $1,000 fines.