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Largo couple charged in rental scam get a trial date

Nicole Johnson during a court appearance in February. [DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 14

LARGO — Nearly a year and a half after 22 people accused the Johnsons of running a rental scam, the Largo couple will go to trial.

On Friday, Judge Chris Helinger scheduled David and Nicole Johnson, 33 and 30, for a Jan. 7, 2020 trial.

"I know it seems like a long way off," Helinger said while victims titled their heads at each other and widened their eyes.

In June of last year, the couple was accused of seeking out renters for a house at 1091 Lexington Court in Largo using social media and Craigslist, according to deputies.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Police: Couple leased someone else's home to 15 families at same time

Judge: Couple charged in Largo house scam should serve more than two years in prison

All were promised the same house, for the same period of time.

Families forked over thousands. They trusted the Johnsons, who they said met with them in person and showed them the house, according to records. In total, victims lost about $30,000.

As move-in neared, the Johnsons would make excuses why the house wasn't ready. A stillborn birth, or bed bugs, or air conditioning issues. They promised one victim, who appeared in court on Friday, months worth of free rent for her patience, officials said.

In October, the couple was arrested in Las Vegas and brought back to Florida.

Victim Erin Walker asked the judge on Friday for no more court dates other than the trial. She said coming in and out of work was difficult for the multiple people the Johnsons are accused of scamming.

"There's so many victims and this is so much court," Walker said. "I'd really like to see this through."

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at rellenbogen@tampabay.com. Follow @Romyellenbogen.

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