Six people, including a lawyer, real estate agent and funeral home director, have been charged with conspiring to steal a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home from an elderly widow after she passed away.
Those charged in this scheme are Andrew Kaufman, 56, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Romanoff Quarles, 43, Philadelphia, Vincent Marciano, 63, Philadelphia, Marvin Kimble, 57, Philadelphia, Antoine Turay, 35, Philadelphia, and Damion Rivers, 32, Philadelphia. All were either arrested or have arranged to surrender to authorities.
According to the grand jury presentment, the investigation began after an anonymous tip was received in 2013. The resident was concerned that someone was trying to steal property from the estate of an elderly woman who had recently passed away without heirs. As a result of a Grand Jury investigation, an elaborate scheme was discovered to defraud the decedent’s estate – and, in turn, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The principals involved in the scheme were Romanoff T. Quarles and his attorney, Andrew Kaufman, who used his position as an attorney at law to devise and execute the scheme; Vincent Marciano, a real estate agent who organized a sham sale of the elderly woman’s home; Antoine Turay and Marvin Kimble, who are involved in the funeral home industry and created a false funeral bill that Kaufman then used in a court filing; and Damion Rivers, who was involved with an authorized title agent of the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles and permitted a sham sale of the estate’s automobile.
The victim in this scheme was Dorothy Kennedy, who died on August 21, 2010. Mrs. Kennedy had lived with her husband Francis Kennedy for several decades at a home they owned at 2816 South Marshall Street, Philadelphia. Mr. Kennedy passed away on March 29, 2008. Mrs. Kennedy continued to live alone at their South Marshall Street home until she died there in 2010. Following her death, Mrs. Kennedy’s body was transported to the Philadelphia Office of Medical Examiner, where it remained for 30 days. It appears that she had no living relatives, and she did not have a will.
Romanoff Quarles lived around the corner from Mrs. Kennedy, and after hearing from neighbors that she had died, decided that he wanted to acquire her home. Quarles then contacted attorney Andrew Kaufman. Kaufman focused his practice on probate and estate matters, and had substantial experience with the Philadelphia Orphans Court and the Register of Wills office. Kaufman used his experience and knowledge to devise a scheme that would allow his client, Quarles, to unlawfully exploit the system and steal property and money that, under the law, should have escheated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
With the assistance of real estate agent Vincent Marciano, Kaufman and Quarles set up a sale of the Kennedy home to Quarles at a greatly reduced price–one that Quarles himself set. In addition to the home she owned on South Marshall Street, Mrs. Kennedy also owned a 2005 Buick Lesabre that still was titled in the name of her deceased husband and parked in a space directly behind her house. Quarles took the car and then transferred the title to himself, with the assistance of Damion Rivers. Because Mrs. Kennedy died without a will, surviving spouse or any surviving heirs, all of her estate should have escheated to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as required by law.
Over the course of three years, from 2010 until 2013, Andrew Kaufman, Romanoff Quarles, Vincent Marciano, Marvin Kimble, Antoine Turay and Damian Rivers all participated in this scheme to defraud the Kennedy estate and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Public Corruption Task Force announced the charges.
“I am extremely proud of the work my Public Corporation Task Force did on this case,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “The facts in this case are disturbing and extremely sad. It’s hard to believe that these people would steal a dead woman’s house and personal property. I would like to thank the concerned resident who contacted my office to report their suspicions about this crime. Too often we don’t listen to gut instincts, and in this case not only was it right, it helped uncover an elaborate criminal conspiracy. I would also like to thank the Register of Wills Officer for their cooperation in this ongoing investigation.”