Man who was subleasing low-income apartments has criminal background

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man who was subleasing apartments to low-income families at a Midtown apartment complex has a criminal record, and now the apartment and charity he was working with say they're cutting ties.

Carlton Johnson subleased more than 20 apartment units to families using money from the nonprofit Metropolitan Interfaith Association, but the money seems disappeared.

An attorney for the apartment complex said they are cutting ties with him after money has come up missing. The money could be federal HUD funds.

Johnson was serving time in Florida until his release in 2012, records state. Most recently he was locked up in Manatee County, that's south of Tampa, for forgery and unauthorized possession of a license. Rewind to the early 2000s and he was incarcerated for multiple counts of grand theft and fraudulent use of ID.

Johnson is now living in Memphis, subleasing apartments at University Gardens Manor off Vollintine.

Low-income renters we talked to claim he contacted them, name dropping MIFA, after they had been there looking for help. MIFA calls him a "rental landlord."

He says he runs a company called TAG Services. WREG found filings with the state under his name this year. He runs his business and lives at a unit at University Gardens.

Tenants claim they paid their rent to him but it appears the rent has disappeared and records show the complex is taking Johnson to court.

Just a few months ago, Toneshia Waterway handed over much of her personal information to Johnson. On Tuesday she's stunned to see what's on his background.

"He can take our Social Security numbers and he can do whatever he please," Waterway said. "We can have credit cards, we can have apartments, we can have other services in our name, buildings or anything."

We were in the middle of speaking to other people when we were approached by a woman working at the complex who said we had to leave.
Asked if Johnson is going to be let go, she replied, "I have no answers for that. You'll have to refer that to the attorney."

We asked MIFA if they were aware of Johnson's record and if they run background checks on subleasers.

A spokesperson told us, "We were first made aware of Carlton Johnson’s previous criminal history last week. We currently do not background check landlords. However, we are in the process of working with HUD and other community partners to put in place safeguards to help prevent similar situations from happening in the future. Our utmost goal is to provide our clients with safe and secure housing."

Waterway is now looking for an attorney to help. The mother of four isn't giving up.

"I've already been homeless. There ain't much more you can do to me, but you ain't going to put me in the same predicament, you know what I'm saying? So, I'm doing the best that I can."

An attorney for the complex and MIFA say they are working together to make sure no one is evicted due to the unpaid rent.

Johnson maintains he had thousands of dollars stolen from him which is why he cannot pay the rent. However we have no found any record of the specific theft he is talking about and he has refused to show us any record of it.

The first court date is set for Wednesday morning.