Archives For forged deeds

Winston Gregory Hall, aka “Sage El,” 37, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who absconded during his trial, was sentenced today to three to nine years in state prison. He was convicted by a jury of grand larceny and other charges for stealing a house owned by his 84-year-old next-door neighbor by forging a deed and other documents that transferred ownership of the property to a trust in his name.

According to the evidence, on April 16, 2015, the defendant created the Winston Gregory Hall Express Trust, of which he was the trustee. One week later, on April 23, 2015, a deed was executed by the victim, the owner of 390 East 49th Street, Brooklyn, New York, transferring ownership of the property to the defendant’s trust. Further, on May 8, 2015, the deed and related tax documents, also forged, were filed at the New York City Register’s Office. On May 18, 2015, the deed was recorded with the New York City Department of Finance, at which time the estimated market value of the property was $445,000.

The victim stated that she did not know the defendant and never intended to transfer ownership of her home to the defendant.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, between April and May of 2015, the defendant perpetrated a fraud to steal the title to 390 East 49th Street in Brooklyn, a three-family home owned by his next-door neighbor, an 84-year-old woman who lived with a family member in New Jersey.

The defendant was sentenced to an indeterminate term of three to nine years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant was convicted of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The defendant absconded after the jury trial began and was convicted in absentia on October 23, 2018. He was picked up in Brooklyn by police two months after absconding.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant twice showed a disregard for the rule of law, first by stealing his neighbor’s house and then absconding during his trial. He’s now been held accountable. This case is part of my continuing commitment to ensuring justice for Brooklyn homeowners who are all too often the target of unscrupulous individuals.”

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Frank Dudis and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ellen Koenig, of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

Jordan Horsford, 29, East New York, Brooklyn was indicted today for allegedly stealing and attempting to sell the home of his 85-year-old neighbor, a diabetic man for whom the defendant was a part-time caretaker.

According to the investigation, in August 2016 the defendant, who was known to do odd jobs in the neighborhood, began helping the victim as needed, including carrying his wheelchair up steps and helping him get in and out of vehicles; he was paid for each task by the victim’s family.

In April 2017, it is alleged, the victim’s family began paying the defendant $400 a week to accept Meals on Wheels deliveries and set them out for the victim, to make sure he took his medicine and to check in on him at night.

Between June 19, 2017 and November 1, 2017, the defendant allegedly convinced the victim to sign away the deed to his home on Barbey Street, East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant allegedly told the victim he risked losing his home if he did not sign a document, and had the document notarized by a notary. The defendant then allegedly realized he needed another document notarized, but the notary refused so the defendant allegedly copied and cut and pasted her original signature. He then recorded the deed, which had been signed over to him.

Finally, it is alleged, the defendant attempted to sell the house almost immediately after securing the deed, but a title company suspected foul play and refused to insure the home. The would-be purchaser then reached out to the 85-year-old victim’s family. At around the same time, the victim’s daughter, while going through her father’s mail, found a letter from the Department of Finance notifying them about documents filed relating to the property. The daughter pursued the matter with the DOF and the case was ultimately referred to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for further investigation and prosecution.

Additionally, the defendant allegedly used the victim’s credit card to buy two gold bars online, one in September 2016 and another in August 2017.

Horsford was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 12-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny, first-degree identity theft, first-degree falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, criminal possession of a forged instrument and fraudulently obtaining a signature. He was released without bail, ordered to surrender his passport and to return to court on March 6, 2019. The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said “This case should serve as another warning that rising property values in Brooklyn make homeowners, especially the elderly, the target of unscrupulous predators trying to steal their homes from under them. I urge all homeowners to be especially careful about signing documents relating to their property without trusted legal advice.”

The case was investigated by Detective Sheriff Kevin Acon, of the Criminal Investigations Bureau, New York City Department of Finance.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Karen Turner of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

Danny Noble, 49, Baldwin, New York was sentenced today to 4.5 to nine years in prison in connection with illegally transferring the titles of seven houses in Brooklyn, New York and two in Queens, New York from their true owners to himself or a corporation, then renting out some of the properties and selling others.

According to the indictment, between June 29, 2010 and March 31, 2015, the defendants falsely transferred title to seven Brooklyn properties: 71 Carlton Avenue, 104 Vanderbilt Avenue, 45 North Oxford Street and 70 Clermont Avenue, Fort Greene,; 1391 East 95th Street in Canarsie, 357 Jefferson Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant; 729 Essex Street in East New York all in Brooklyn, New York and two properties in Queens, New York: 94-05 108th Street in Jamaica and 187-05 Liberty Avenue in Hollis.

Five of the properties were transferred from the actual homeowners to Noble, according to the indictment, three were transferred to 69 Adelphi Street, LLC, and one to a third party. The defendants allegedly targeted the properties because the owners did not live in the houses and rarely visited them.

Once the titles were transferred, according to the indictment, the defendants carried out various scams in order to cash in on them. For example, Noble maintained control of 45 North Oxford Street, a recently renovated brownstone in Fort Greene, whose owner lived outside of the United States. Noble rented out two apartments in the brownstone, collecting $1,500 a month in rent for each of them. He also maintained control of the two houses in Queens, renting them out for various amounts.

In another facet of the scheme, concerning 1247 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, Noble filed a fraudulent satisfaction of mortgage.

Furthermore, for example, with respect to 71 Carlton Avenue, 104 Vanderbilt Avenue, 70 Clermont Avenue, and 1391 East 95th Street, the defendants transferred the properties’ titles into the names of other, third parties.

Noble pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal possession of stolen property and fourth-degree conspiracy before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on April 27, 2016 and was sentenced today to an indeterminate term of 4.5 to nine years in prison. His co-defendant, Romelo Grey, 41, Freeport, New York, pleaded guilty to falsifying business records on August 16, 2016, and was sentenced to 1.5 to 3 years in prison.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the scheme was discovered after Grey and Noble transferred the title to the Canarsie house at 1391 East 95th Street to a third party. Grey visited the house with the buyer to inspect it, and told the tenants living there that they had to move out. The buyer then began renovating the house and those workers caught the eye of an employee of a business across the street, which was actually owned by the true owner of 1391 East 95th Street. That employee called the owner of the property, who called police. Further investigation led to the defendants’ connections to the other properties.

As part of the scheme, Noble, the leader, filed false documents with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which maintains land records and other real property filings in New York City, including records relating to ownership and encumbrances, such as liens and mortgages.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In Brooklyn, we take real estate scams very seriously. The houses targeted in this fraud are worth millions of dollars. My prosecutors and investigators worked diligently to expose this fraudulent scheme and bring this defendant to justice.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

Marilyn Sanchez, 49, Brooklyn, New York was sentenced today for filing two fraudulent deeds and supporting documents with the New York City Register’s Office in order to fraudulently acquire ownership of two separate residential homes in Brooklyn, New York.

According to the indictment and statements made at Sanchez’s arraignment in Kings County Supreme Court, in January 2016 Marilyn Sanchez illegally transferred ownership of 477 Christopher Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York from the lawful owners to herself by recording a deed and five supporting documents containing forged signatures with the New York City Register’s Office.

Additionally, in November 2016, Sanchez illegally transferred ownership of 271 East 32nd Street, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York by recording a deed and five supporting documents containing the forged signatures of the lawful owners with the New York City Register’s Office.

In both instances, the owners never signed the deed nor the supporting documents and they never gave Sanchez, or anyone else, permission to sign on their behalf.

On October 5, 2018, Sanchez pleaded guilty to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, before the Honorable Judge Miller in Kings County Supreme Court.

Sanchez was sentenced to 60 days in jail, followed by five years of probation. Sanchez also agreed to transfer ownership of the two property deeds back to the lawful owners. Today’s sentencing marks the first deed theft ruling resulting from an OAG investigation.

Attorney General Letitia James made the announcement.

Too often scammers turn the American Dream of homeownership into a nightmare,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “I’m pleased our office’s investigation has resulted in the return of these stolen deeds to their rightful owners. No one should have to worry about their property being stolen by scammers, and I encourage New Yorkers to follow my office’s tips to help protect themselves from potential foreclosure scams. I remind anyone who tries to harm hardworking New Yorkers that we will hold you accountable.”

The DOF Office of the Sheriff remains committed to investigate and arrest those responsible for deed fraud,” said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “The Attorney General’s prosecution of this case sends a strong message about the severity of the crime and the commitment to protect the homes of all New Yorkers. I want to commend Sheriff’s Detectives Francesca Rosa and Nene Kodjoe for their efforts in this investigation.

After years of working with New York homeowners, we’ve seen hundreds of scam and fraud cases, many of which result in major losses for families and their communities. But deed fraud cases are some of the most painful and complicated, because homeowners are often forced to fight for years to regain their properties,” said Christie Peale, CEO/Executive Director for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “We congratulate the Attorney General’s Office here in making sure that these homes were returned to their lawful owners. The OAG’s significant investments in fighting mortgage scams and deed theft through education and prosecution are particularly welcome, given how easy it is for bad actors to steal homes from hardworking families.”

Launched in December 2016 by the Attorney General’s office, the Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Initiative is a grant program focused on enhancing outreach, education, and referral services for homeowners at risk of fraudulent foreclosure rescue schemes. The Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Initiative is part of the office’s broader efforts to direct resources to at-risk homeowners, including investing $130 million in the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP). Since 2012, HOPP has provided free, high-quality assistance to over 90,000 families to help avoid foreclosure of their homes.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of a foreclosure rescue scam, Attorney General James offered the following tips:

  • Be skeptical of online ads or telephone callers that promise they can get you a mortgage modification or save your home from foreclosure. Only your bank or loan servicer can approve a loan modification.
  • Visit homeownerhelpny.com for information on how to avoid or report scams.
  • Do not give your personal financial information, such as your bank account number, social security number, or the name of your loan servicer, to a caller offering to help save you from foreclosure. Your bank will already have this information.
  • Never pay an up-front fee for mortgage-related services. It is a violation of New York law to charge upfront fees for such services, and violations should be reported to the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-855-HOME-456.
  • If you believe you have been scammed by a foreclosure rescue operator or a debt relief organization, submit a complaint to the New York State Attorney General’s Office: ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Don Nguyen and Herman Wun of the Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Real Estate Enforcement Unit Chief Travis Hill and Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado.

The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Walter Lynch under the supervision of Deputy Chief John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief John Reidy.

The Attorney General thanks the New York City Sheriff’s Office for its assistance on this matter.

 

Robert McCloud, 39, most recently of Warrenville, South Carolina, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison on a federal wire fraud charge stemming from a real estate scheme in which he and others used forged deeds and fake driver’s licenses to fraudulently transfer ownership of District of Columbia homes from the rightful owners.

According to the government’s evidence, McCloud and others identified vacant or seemingly abandoned residential properties in the District of Columbia, and then prepared and filed forged deeds with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds transferring the properties into fictitious names. Next, they agreed to sell these properties to legitimate purchasers and arranged with unsuspecting title and escrow companies to finalize the sale and transfer ownership. Finally, they shared the fraudulently-obtained sales proceeds amongst themselves.

In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted taking part in two such fraudulent transactions within a two-month period of 2015, which generated a total of $580,482 in proceeds.

In the first, in April 2015, McCloud filed a forged Intra-Family deed with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds purporting to show that a home in the unit block of K Street NW, Washington, D.C., was transferred from the true owners to a fictitious person.  The true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to transfer their home. McCloud then appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner in order to close the transaction, presenting a California driver’s license with his photograph but in the name of the fictitious person, signing the settlement documents and selling the property. The title company sent by wire transfer $195,527 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud withdrew approximately $43,000 of the funds before the crime was discovered; the rest of the funds were returned to the title company.

In the second transaction, in May 2015, a conspirator arranged for a forged deed with respect to another home, in the 6400 block of 16th Street NW, Washington D.C., to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. As with the other property, the true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to sell the residence. In June 2015, McCloud appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner and using another fake California driver’s license with his photograph.  He again signed the settlement documents in the fictitious name. The title company sent by wire transfer $384,955 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud was arrested the following day.

The true owners of the homes, who are elderly, have faced difficult and lengthy proceedings in order to retitle the properties in their own names. Unwinding the fraudulent transfer is merely the first step for the victims to reclaim their ownership and interest in the properties and each must now settle various outstanding bills.

Although McCloud received $580,482 in proceeds from his wire fraud scheme regarding both real properties, law enforcement seized a total of $369,990, which was later administratively forfeited.  These forfeited funds, and the partial return of funds to the title company from the K Street transaction, reduced the amount owed in forfeiture to $57,965, which is the amount of the forfeiture money judgment.

McCloud pled guilty in June 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Amit P. Mehta. In addition to his prison term, McCloud must pay restitution in an amount to be set later by the Court, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $57,965. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release, the first six months of which is to be spent in home confinement. McCloud also will be required to perform 150 hours of community service.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Stephanie Miller, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.

Jon Richard Rattray, Gilbert, Arizona has been indicted on felony counts of Fraud Schemes & Artifices, Money Laundering, Controlling an Illegal Enterprise, Computer Tampering, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Forgery.

The State alleges that Rattray, through his company Hawkeye Real Estate Services, LLC, filed a series of forged lien release documents at the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder with the intent of freeing up equity in homes he owned so that he could take out new loans on those same properties or sell them to purchasers as unencumbered property.  The alleged loss to victims is estimated at over $6 million.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

This case was referred for investigation by the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder and investigated by agents of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

All defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz is prosecuting this case.

Full copy of the indictment.

Ricardo Bentham, 58, Jamaica, New York, has been charged today with grand larceny and other crimes for allegedly conning a 101-year-old neighborhood friend into transferring the deed of his long-time home into the defendant’s name in October of 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, the defendant submitted a quitclaim deed to be filed with the city on October 5, 2017. The document stated that the victim, 101- year-old Woodrow Washington was transferring ownership of his 143rd Street, Jamaica, New York, home which has a value in excess of $50,000 to the defendant for a sale price of $0.

According to the complaint, the victim did not realize anything was awry until he received a letter from the Department of Finance stating that the deed to his home had been transferred to defendant Ricardo Bentham. An inquiry was conducted with the New York City Automated Register Information System which revealed that the document that was filed bears the signature of the Mr. Washington along with a notary stamp and signature of a notary. Mr. Washington stated that the signature on the form is his, however, he is adamant that he never signed any documents in front of a notary. Mr. Theodore White, a 93-year-old notary, who was later questioned by detectives acknowledged that he also knows the defendant from the neighborhood and would often sign documents brought to his home by Bentham because he trusted him. Mr. White, though, said the document bearing his signature was missing the notary seal, which he always added to a document.

Furthermore according to the charges, Mr. Washington identified the defendant as a neighborhood friend who offered to help him collect rent from his tenants. He also stated that he recalled signing documents that the defendant brought to his residence and that some of the forms were blank.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown made the announcement.

District Attorney Brown said, “This is a particularly troublesome case. The defendant was supposedly assisting his centenarian neighbor collect rent from his tenants, but in actuality the helper is alleged to have duped the old man into signing away his home. If the charges are proven true, the defendant now faces prison time for his actions.”

Bentham was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jeffrey Gershuny on a complaint charging him with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Judge Gershuny released the defendant on his own recognizance and ordered him to return to court on August 21, 2018. If convicted, Bentham faces probation to up to 15 years in prison.

The case was investigated by Detective Gloria Castelbanco of the New York City Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation under the supervision of Sergeant Teresa Russo and the overall supervision of Sheriff Joseph Fucito.

Assistant District Attorney Christine Burke, of the District Attorney’s Elder Fraud Unit of the Economic Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Silvana T. Sutich, Accountant and James J. Dever, Supervising Accountant Investigator, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Kristen A. Kane, Chief of the Elder Fraud Unit, Gregory C. Pavlides, Bureau Chief, and Christina Hanophy, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco.

It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Robert McCloud, 39, Warrenville, South Carolina, pled guilty today to a federal wire fraud charge stemming from a real estate scheme in which he and others used forged deeds and fake driver’s licenses to fraudulently transfer ownership of District of Columbia homes from the rightful owners.

According to the government’s evidence, McCloud and others identified vacant or seemingly abandoned residential properties in the District of Columbia, and then prepared and filed forged deeds with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds transferring the properties into fictitious names. Next, they agreed to sell these properties to legitimate purchasers and arranged with unsuspecting title and escrow companies to finalize the sale and transfer ownership. Finally, they shared the fraudulently-obtained sales proceeds amongst themselves.

In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted taking part in two such fraudulent transactions within a two-month period of 2015, which generated a total of $580,482 in proceeds.

In the first, in April 2015, McCloud filed a forged Intra-Family deed with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds purporting to show that a home in the unit block of K Street NW, Washington, DC was transferred from the true owners to a fictitious person.  The true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to transfer their home. McCloud then appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner in order to close the transaction, presenting a California driver’s license with his photograph but in the name of the fictitious person, signing the settlement documents and selling the property. The title company sent by wire transfer $195,527 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud withdrew approximately $43,000 of the funds before the crime was discovered; the rest of the funds were returned to the title company.

In the second transaction, in May 2015, a conspirator arranged for a forged deed with respect to another home, in the 6400 block of 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. As with the other property, the true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to sell the residence. In June 2015, McCloud appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner and using another fake California driver’s license with his photograph.  He again signed the settlement documents in the fictitious name. The title company sent by wire transfer $384,955 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud was arrested the following day.

Although McCloud received $580,482 in proceeds from his wire fraud scheme regarding both real properties, law enforcement seized a total of $369,990, which was later administratively forfeited.  These forfeited funds, and the partial return of funds to the title company from the K Street transaction, reduced the amount owed in forfeiture to $57,965, which is the amount of the forfeiture money judgment.

The harm caused to the owners, buyers, and title companies was covered by title insurance; the restitution amount of $200,488 is the amount due and owing to the title insurance companies after giving credit to the forfeited funds, which were returned to the victims.

McCloud pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, McCloud faces a likely range of 27 to 33 months in prison and a fine of up to $60,000. He also has agreed to pay $200,488 in restitution to two title insurance companies, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $57,965. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta scheduled sentencing for Oct. 19, 2018.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Stephanie Miller, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who is prosecuting the case.

Aderibigbe Ogundiran, 36,  Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York has been sentenced today to two to six years in prison for stealing a 19th century mansion in Fort Greene, New York as well as stealing or attempting to steal five other properties in a brazen scheme in which he transferred title of other people’s properties to himself.

According to the investigation, between February 2015 and December 2016, the defendant engaged in a scheme to steal title to or the economic benefit from six residential properties in Brooklyn, New York, targeting properties whose title holders were deceased or properties that no one seemed to be taking care of.

The defendant took advantage of the apparent inattention to the properties by filing fraudulent deeds or other instruments against the properties in an effort to gain control of them. In fact, he gained control or attempted to gain control of them in a variety of ways that included using aliases, corporate alter-egos, impostors, forged driver’s licenses, misuse of personal identifying information, and forged notarizations.

The defendant targeted the following properties:

  • 176 Washington Park, Fort Greene, New York: This property is a landmarked 19th century five-story, 10-bedroom mansion located on a double-lot directly across from Fort Greene Park and is part of the Fort Greene Historic District. On March 8, 2015, Ogundiran used a Notary Public to notarize and file a deed transferring ownership from the actual owner of the property, a deceased man whose elderly sister lived in the house, to GCU Group, Inc., a corporation controlled by Ogundiran, using an impostor to pose as the deceased owner. The deed was filed with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which recorded the deed on June 26, 2015, transferring ownership to the corporation controlled by Ogundiran.
  • 123 Albany Avenue, Crown Heights, New York: This property is a three-story brownstone. On March 13, 2015, the defendant once again hired a Notary Public to notarize signatures and file with the City Register, a deed purporting to transfer title of 123 Albany Avenue from the rightful owner to himself, once again using an impostor to pose as the rightful owner. The identity assumed by the impostor was that of a person who in fact had died in 2011. The fraudulent deed was recorded by the City Register on March 30, 2015.
  • 42 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property was purchased in 2004 by an individual who died in 2010. On November 19, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against this property granting the defendant the right to engage in real estate transactions and other powers on behalf of the property. The deceased owner purportedly signed the Power of Attorney on June 15, 2015. On November 18, 2016, the defendant filed a deed purportedly signed by the deceased owner on July 30, 2015 conveying title to the property to Ogundiran for $500.
  • 1024 Hendrix Street, East New York: This property was purchased in 1997 by an individual who died in 2007. On October 6, 2015, the deceased owner purportedly executed a power of attorney benefitting 1024 Hendrix LLC, a corporation controlled by the defendant. On October 9, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against the property.
  • 1424 Fulton Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property, a three-story residential building with commercial space on the ground floor, was purchased by three individuals in 2013. On November 9, 2016, Ogundiran filed a Power of Attorney with the City Register which was purportedly from one of the actual owners to a corporation incorporated and controlled by the defendant. The Power of Attorney contained the forged signatures of another of the owners and a Notary Public.
  • 49 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property, a two-story house, was owned by an individual who died in 2007, leaving an only child who resided outside of the United States. On November 9, 2016, the defendant filed a forged Power of Attorney against 49 Albany Avenue. The Power of Attorney granted rights to a corporation controlled by the defendant and was purportedly signed by the deceased owner and a Notary Public.

The investigation began after the resident of 176 Washington Park, Fort Greene, New York received notice that she would have to vacate the premises. She notified her attorney, who then filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Finance.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said that in at least one instance, involving 42 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York the defendant collected rent from a tenant after leasing out an apartment. In another instance, involving 1424 Fulton Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York he was captured on videotape filing a Power of Attorney at the City Register’s office, after the actual owner of the property received an email alert of a document filed against the property.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “All too often we are seeing thieves targeting seemingly abandoned properties to try to cash in on Brooklyn’s soaring real estate prices. With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable. Homeowners can protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property – as happened with one of the victims in this case – to alert them to potential theft and fraud related to their property.”

Ogundiran was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate term of two to six years in prison. The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud on March 7, 2018.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Frauds Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

Terrell Hampton, 37, was sentenced today to 119 months in prison for defrauding the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and innocent owners and purchasers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania real estate.

Terrell Hampton, along with his father Kenneth Hampton and other family members, stole vacant homes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that belonged to people who could not afford to defend their properties. Kenneth Hampton was convicted and sentenced to 200 months in prison in November.

At the direction of his father, who was in prison at the time, Terrell looked for vacant properties to target, created and filed fraudulent deeds, sought buyers for the stolen properties, and kept Kenneth apprised of scheme developments. They communicated through phone calls, emails, and letters, as well as through Kenneth’s fiancée, co-conspirator Roxanne Mason.

The participants in the scheme moved into the stolen properties under the cover of fake leases that purported to grant them the right to occupancy.  They then found ways to profit from the stolen properties, either by selling the homes to good faith purchasers, by saddling them with debt, or by taking advantage of government programs designed to aid legitimate homeowners.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain.

This defendant stole from people who didn’t have the resources to fight back, often resulting in victim battling against victim, homeowner against good faith purchaser,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “He lived up to the low example set by his father, and I am proud that the talented case team has put both of them behind bars.”

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Inspector General, City of Philadelphia.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul G. Shapiro and Sarah M. Wolfe