COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Ziggy McKenzie finds himself "pretty much homeless" after an alleged Craigslist scammer rented him a Gold Coast apartment that was not his to rent.
McKenzie, 20, was among several potential tenants who paid $850 for the first month's rent for the studio apartment "in the heart of Chicago's prestigious Gold Coast" at 28 E. Bellevue Place. They allegedly also handed over $60 for a background check to Steven Kozaczka and started planning their move.
Kozaczka, 25, of Des Plaines, allegedly pocketed the money and then turned around and rented the apartment to other tenants, Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said Monday.
Charged with theft by deception, Kozaczka appeared Monday in Cook County Bond Court, where Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. set bail at $30,000.
McKenzie said Kozaczka showed him and his roommate the studio apartment last Tuesday, and they agreed to sublease it almost immediately.
"I thought it was quite a good deal," said McKenzie, who is now forced to crash at a friend's house while his apartment search continues.
According to the company that manages the building, Bil-Mar Management, the studios at 28 E. Bellevue rent for between $900 and $1,000.
A representative of Bil-Mar Management said in a phone interview Monday that he did not recognize Kozaczka as an employee of the company and was unsure how Kozaczka might have gained access to the apartment. The representative did not comment further or explain how Kozaczka was able to rent the apartment to someone else, as prosecutors contend.
Kozaczka does not appear to have a previous criminal record.