Man accused in rental scam likeable, popular while living in RV park

Man accused in rental scam likeable, popular while living in RV park »Play Video
Jerry Rosenstiel appears in court Friday via video feed. Police accuse him in a rental home scam in McMinnville.

VERNONIA, Ore. – The man police accused in a McMinnville rental home scam lived in a RV park here for the last six weeks.

Jerry Rosenstiel was arrested Thursday night at a home in Aurora. It is unclear why he was there.

He faces nine counts of theft by deception.

Police say Rosenstiel took $16,000 from 14 people who wanted to rent a house he offered in McMinnville. But he actually had no rights to the house and people say he kept their money and disappeared.

As it turned out, he was at the Anderson RV Park not far off the main drag in Vernonia where he made friends. He shared cookouts with them and then turned to them after his latest arrest to try to get bailed out of jail.

Neighbors say he moved his tents into the park about six weeks ago and was very friendly, very likeable and very popular. He told fellow campers he was dying of colon cancer and was trying to keep a positive attitude.

"He said he had cancer – had a prognosis of a very short time here on earth," said camper Mark Luciani.

So when Rosenstiel's family called the park on Thursday to ask for help bailing him out of jail, some wanted to help until they saw KATU’s stories about his long criminal history.

On Friday, no one spoken to for this story wanted to donate.

"He's got that entourage," said Luciani. "If the entourage isn't going to (donate), then the red flags go up."

Rosenstiel's tents are now empty but neighbors said he was constantly surrounded by a large group of about 20 people at the park and held big meals that he shared with other campers.

Campers say Rosenstiel told them he had won the lottery. It's just one more of his stories that they now doubt are true.

Rosenstiel appeared in court Friday.

Outside of court, a woman who said she was a victim said the scam hit her family hard. Valerie Moon has four children all under the age of seven.

"They got to pick out their rooms, their paint colors – it was all a lie. He's sick," she said.

Moon and her children have been living with family and sleeping on their floors.

KATU has been warning people about Rosenstiel for six years now. He's already been convicted of theft several times.