A Petersburg woman said she was forced to live in a hotel when a deal to get into a new home took a turn for the worst.
Landlord Oliver Lawrence is now charged with fraud. He's not a stranger to the law. He was convicted years back of being a slumlord in Richmond. Now he’s considered a fugitive, after skipping a court date earlier this month.
The 49-year-old was busted for taking money under false pretenses with the intent to defraud. Previously, he was sentenced to jail and forced to live in one of the rundown properties he subjected his renters to.
"It's not fair what he did to me," Parrish Mason said.
She said she had no idea about Lawrence’s past when she paid him $1,700 to move into a Petersburg home - even though she says it needed some work.
"It was in agreement I would be moving in the weekend of May 6, to give him a couple of days to take care of the things that I pointed out needed to be done," she said.
However, there was one problem.
"He never showed up," Mason said.
He also did not show up for his court date this month.
NBC12 called the phone number listed under public records to get Oliver Lawrence's side of the story.
"Hello. We are not available now. Please call again," an automated greeting said.
NBC12 rang again. This time, no message at all.
It's not his first problem in Petersburg. Two years ago, he was issued a summons for not making emergency repairs or demolishing a home on Baylor's Lane, which has been deemed unfit to live in. To this day, it's still abandoned.
"It's very nasty, especially when you live next doors… Grass be all high. Trash. You never know what's living over there," said Margaret Kelso.
Mason called NBC12 to expose the problem so other potential renters are aware.
"I've been trying to contact all three channels, but you are the only one who returned the phone call… I gave him everything that I had," she said.
"She need [sic] her money back," Kelso added.
Because Oliver is accused of pocketing more than $200, this crime is a felony. He's due back in court in December.
Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved