COLORADO (CBSDFW.COM) – A couple dubbed the “serial squatters” is racking up more evictions, this time in Colorado. Consumer Justice first reported on William and Heather Schwab in October 2017, after being contacted by several former landlords. Court records show at least 20 evictions for the Schwabs dating back more than a decade. They owe tens of thousands of dollars to families across North Texas.
Now landlords in Colorado say they, too, are victims of the Schwabs. Debra Kuzemchak met “Heather Ruybal” in November 2017. “She was a Texas girl, a good ol’ girl. She had a nice, slow drawl. She spoke well; she was eloquent.” Heather told the realtor her husband was an “older man” named Larry.
OLD TRICKS IN A NEW STATE
The couple brought along three boys and a dog. “They were in a hurry to move,” said Kuzemchak. “She’d moved her family up here to help her grandmother, her father and her aunt.” She says Heather loved the home in Broomfield and offered to help update the interior by painting the kitchen cabinets. Their credit history checked out, and the couple signed a two-year lease for $2,350 a month. “At the lease-signing — first time I ever did this — I took a check,” said Kuzemchak. Kuzemchak says she immediately left the home and went straight to the bank, where she was told the account the check was written on was closed. “And that’s when it all started.”
Kuzemchak says the couple gave her excuse after excuse. “It was every story that you’ve ever heard about somebody not being able to pay rent.” She started the eviction process in January. The Schwabs stayed until mid-February. “They moved just before the sheriff had to show up.” Kuzemchak says the family left behind dozens of boxes and piles of trash. The newly-installed carpet was covered in cat urine; the home reeked of cigarette smoke. And the cabinets that Heather had promised to paint were left looking more random than rustic.
It was only after the eviction that Kuzemchak discovered who the Schwabs really were. “I’ve since learned that [Larry] is Heather’s father… so she used his name and social security number on the application.” When reached by Consumer Justice, the father said he had no idea his information was being used that way and wanted nothing to do with the situation.
The Schwabs moved into a home in nearby Thornton just after Valentine’s Day. The landlord says they paid the pro-rated rent for February in cash; the check for March bounced. That’s when the landlord did an online search and contacted Consumer Justice.
In April, police in Thornton arrested Heather on a nationwide warrant as a “fugitive of justice.” The paperwork from Denton County showed she was wanted for felony theft of property, and was to be held on no bond until she could be extradited to Texas.
But during her first court hearing, Heather’s public defender told the judge “this is a miscommunication,” and that Heather had a “stable home” in Colorado. The judge agreed to grant her $1,500 bond. She was released that day. (Read the full transcript below.)
Two weeks later, Thornton police arrested Schwab as she appeared for her next extradition hearing. She’s now charged with felony theft there, in connection to her eviction from Kuzemchak’s rental home. A judge set Schwab’s bond at $50,000.
NEW YORK BEGINS INVESTIGATION
Consumer Justice also learned that the Schwabs’ business is under investigation in New York. Heather is the registered agent for Rocky Mountain Credit Management and Wolf A/R Management and Recovery. According to clients, the couple cold-calls businesses, offering to collect on old debts. At least two clients say the Schwabs recovered money, then kept it. The owner of a New York trucking company says she’s out $19,000. New York State Police say a second business has reported a loss of $6,700. Police are now investigating for “several counts” of grand larceny.
As for Debra Kuzemchak, she’s just glad to have the Schwabs out of her life. “I like to think that I’m a fairly good judge of character,” she said. “But I was completely off the mark here.”