Former Officer Defrauds Landlords, Gets Probation: A Cautionary Tale

By Kimberly Rau, MassLandlords, Inc.

Robert Kennedy has a history of not paying his rent. While earning up to $187,000 a year as a police detective, Kennedy’s girlfriend lied on rental assistance applications to get $10,000 in RAFT during the pandemic. The former Stoneham police officer further managed to cover up his eviction history by submitting background checks using a social security number belonging to a family member with the same name.

A street view of a luxury apartment complex made of stone, siding and contemporary materials, with playground structure in the foreground.

The Mave Apartments in Stoneham, where Robert Kennedy lived between February 2020 and October 2021. His eviction included a judgment against him for more than $24,000.(Image: Google Earth)

Kennedy was found out after NBC10 investigated and uncovered his history of dodging rent and lying on rental applications. Kennedy was formally charged in 2023 and stepped down as an officer of the law in March of that year. He eventually pled guilty to wire fraud charges to avoid jail time.

After reportedly cheating landlords out of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, Kennedy was sentenced to a mere two years’ probation in January 2024, with 90 days of home confinement.

Because he retired and was not removed from his law enforcement position, Kennedy may still be eligible to receive his full taxpayer-funded pension in the amount of $5,000 a month. The Stoneham Retirement Board voted to move forward with pension forfeiture proceedings in March 2024. A recommendation to retain or deny his pension will be issued following a future hearing.

As of publication, at least some of the landlords NBC spoke to had not been made whole. It’s a cautionary tale for housing providers to always perform your due diligence and double-check the information you receive when screening tenants.

A History of Ignored Warnings

When he applied for rentals, Kennedy’s 2015 bankruptcy and poor credit report raised a red flag for some housing providers.

According to court documents (posted by NBC), Kennedy and his girlfriend, Juliann Limone, applied for a rental at The Mave Apartments, a luxury apartment complex in Stoneham, in February of 2020.

“Mave Apartments’ tenant screening report flagged Kennedy’s previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing and recommended rejecting the rental application,” reads the criminal complaint filed with the United States District Court for Massachusetts.

“Management at Mave Apartments, however, overrode the tenant screening warning... and offered Kennedy and the Girlfriend a one-year lease for a two-bedroom apartment.”

They moved in and “quickly began withholding rent payments.” By October 2020, Kennedy reportedly owed his landlords more than $13,000 in rent.

Initial eviction proceedings were held up when Limone applied for RAFT. She failed to list Kennedy as a member of the household, withholding his income of approximately $187,000, and received $10,000 in rental assistance. By that point, even with the payment, Kennedy still owed $14,000, and continued to withhold rent.

When the courts finally issued an order of eviction in July 2021, it included a judgment of $24,398 against Kennedy. Kennedy and his girlfriend finally left the apartment in October 2021.

After the eviction, Kennedy applied for a rental at Reading Commons Apartments in October 2021. On his application, Kennedy stated he had not been evicted previously. When his future landlord questioned his bankruptcy history and credit report, Kennedy said he had been a victim of identity theft from a family member. The landlord requested Kennedy either provide documentation of the identity theft, or consider adding a guarantor to the application. Kennedy was allowed to move in when he provided a family member willing to act as a guarantor. According to court documents, that person did not live in the rental.

Kennedy’s checks for the first month’s rent and security deposit both bounced. Reading Commons served him with a notice to quit in that same month, at which point Kennedy made a single rent payment. According to the criminal complaint, he would not make another for 12 months. Eviction proceedings were held up when Limone applied for RAFT again, twice, though no funds were awarded.

When he was evicted, he owed Reading Commons $42,362 in unpaid rent, utilities, and legal fees.

You should always complete a thorough tenant screening for your potential renters, including a telephone interview. Using our applicant qualifier can help you objectively determine who is a good fit for your apartment. If there are red flags, give the applicant a chance to explain the issue, but verify what you’re told. If you can’t explain away the red flags, you may want to move on to another applicant.

We recommend you first go over your applications with a fine-tooth comb. Check on prior addresses: Do they correspond to residential addresses? Is the person your applicant listed as the owner the same as the owner of public record? Check on their social security number and driver’s license: Is it really them?  Finally, conduct a background check for any serious rental candidates, but make sure you go over the results very carefully. There should be no way to rent a place without a fully verified application, and additional third-party background checks. Not doing this could cost you.

A multi-story multifamily building with beige siding, trees along the driveway and a small deck outside one of the units on the second floor.

The Chestnut Street rental in Stoneham where Kennedy reportedly owed his landlords $14,000 in rent. (Image: Google Earth)

Identity Theft with One Letter’s Difference

Ironically, though Kennedy told his Reading Commons landlord that he was the victim of identity theft by a family member, it was he who would reportedly use a relative’s social security number to pass a background check at his next apartment.

In October 2022, Kennedy and Limone applied to rent an apartment on Chestnut Street in Stoneham. When the landlords requested an electronic background check, court records state Kennedy dragged his feet. When prompted to submit the electronic forms, Kennedy reportedly did so by submitting the name and social security number of a family member with a near-identical name instead of his own information.

The landlords didn’t notice that the middle initial on the background check didn’t match the one on Kennedy’s paystubs. According to the criminal complaint, the credit report they received was “well-rated with no collections reported, no past due balances, and a history of on-time payments.”

Sometimes, middle initials don’t match with court records because someone uses a middle name alias, and courts don’t check IDs. It can be tricky to tell when a court record refers to a different person. In this case, one letter ended up costing Kennedy’s landlords $14,000 in lost rent.

Some Landlords Say: Don’t Rent to Cops (or Certain Other Professions)

Back when message boards and internet forums predated social media platforms, there was a lot of activity on a website named Mr. Landlord. It was there that one of our MassLandlords members learned that some housing providers choose not to rent to people in a variety of professions. Police officers and lawyers were the most common. The list of federal and state protected classes does not identify profession as a protected class, meaning you can legally use this as a disqualifier.

Our MassLandlords member,  who wishes to remain anonymous out of concern of retaliation, created their own list based on the feedback from that forum. It includes police officers, lawyers and paralegals, clergy members and animal rescue operators, among other professions.

“My personal experience lifetime to date has been about a 50/50 split between police officers who actually want to make the community a better place, help people and be good citizens,” they told us. “And the other half want to search your car for no reason, and they want to run red lights just because they can.”

They stated that their concern about renting to officers stems from the potential for trouble with those who are in the latter half of the group.

“If you have a problem with one cop, there’s a decent chance that you may have a problem with several others, and now you’re getting pulled over all the time, or that sort of thing. They feel they are above the law. And somebody who is above the law and above you in their mentality is not somebody that would make an ideal tenant.”

Our landlord also said they have not had to reject an applicant solely because they are a police officer.

These are anecdotes, not advice. You should make your own decisions about who you want to rent to, remembering to always stay within the bounds of the law to avoid discrimination charges. Protections against discrimination based on source of income do not apply to occupations. “Source of income” refers to how you get money to pay your rent, whether that is employment, disability pay, a pension or housing vouchers.


Robert Kennedy (no apparent relation to the Kennedys of the “Camelot Administration”) certainly did not put police officers in the best light when his history of not paying rent came to light. This isn’t to say all police officers are bad. But to us, it appears as though his knowledge of the law helped him get away without paying rent to several landlords. His last landlords stated that he provided a business card from the police department when he toured the apartment. This could be seen as using his profession to influence a decision, a “trust me, I’m a police officer” confidence trick. That’s what the Stoneham retirement board will have to determine when they decide whether Kennedy can still receive his pension.

For landlords, this is a cautionary tale to always conduct thorough screenings, look into red flags and examine background check results carefully. Eviction is expensive and time-consuming. You’ll be better off if you can avoid staying out of court by avoiding tenants with a history of nonpayment.