ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque police continue to investigate exactly how many people were involved in a greedy scheme to break into foreclosed homes and rent them out to unsuspecting victims, KRQE News 13 has learned.
While one person has been charged in the case so far, the relatives of two other possible suspects could be connected, too.
Shaun Anaya, 35, appeared in court less than a week ago.
"He is in jail currently now on some charges that do pertain to this case," APD White Collar Crimes Detective Michael Sandoval said.
Police say Anaya is a key player connected to as many as 40 homes illegally rented out and they say he had help.
Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority worker Anna Griego was recently fired, after evidence surfaced that she helped Anaya get water service for the illegal rental homes.
According to police, Griego's brother, Paul Lucero, is also suspected of taking part in the operation – to include finding vacant homes, breaking into them and changing the locks.
A number of Griego's other relatives are under the microscope as well.
KRQE News 13 has learned Anna Griego's son was found living in an illegal rental house in Albuquerque's "Country Club" neighborhood, the same house where Shaun Anaya was arrested earlier this year.
Griego's cousins were living in another illegal rental house near Ventana Ranch.
Griego's and Lucero's parents were found living inside a house near Unser northwest, another vacant home with owners who had not given permission for anyone to live there.
At this point it's unclear if any of the relatives had any knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing.
"That's still part of the investigation," Det. Sandoval said. "We're still trying to determine their role, if any, in this investigation."
Griego's and Lucero's father, Pablo Lucero, is the pastor of a local church.
Water bills obtained by News 13 show Pablo's name and his wife's name listed as the account holders for the house near Unser.
Over the phone, Pastor Lucero admitted to living in the house. But he insisted his son and daughter were wrapped up in a big misunderstanding. He referred questions about the house in question, to his son.
The home's legal owner told us she and her husband felt sorry for the couple after finding them at the home, and agreed to let them stay.
Paul Lucero was found living in another vacant home with his wife and kids, without the owner's permission.
For now though, Shaun Anaya is the only person charged in the case.
Police say the investigation is going to take some time.
"We continue to have victims on a weekly basis contact the Albuquerque Police Department," Det. Sandoval said.
A team of detectives has been working the case for months.
The New Mexico Attorney General's Office has agreed to prosecute.
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