FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 13, 2016
Brooklyn Man Sentenced to up to 18 Years in Prison for
Stealing Three Properties in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Fort Greene
Forged Deeds, Acted as an Attorney and Took in over $43,000;
Tried Selling another Brownstone for over $1 Million
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Brooklyn man was sentenced to nine to 18 years in prison for stealing three Brooklyn properties by forging deeds, pretending to be an attorney and selling, or attempting to sell, them to buyers. He sold one empty lot twice and received bids on another home in excess of $1 million.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant shamefully stole houses and other property from their rightful owners by using forged documents, engaging in deceit and committing outright fraud. He did so solely to exploit the lucrative real estate market in Brooklyn. And now he will spend many years in prison where scammers like him belong.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Carl Smith, 50, of Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alexander Jeong to an indeterminate term of nine to 18 years in prison following his conviction on May 23, 2016 after a jury trial of two counts of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree grand larceny, two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, one count of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and unlawful practice of law. The defendant, who has numerous prior felony convictions, was facing mandatory prison time for the conviction.
The District Attorney said that, according to testimony at trial, in February 2011, the defendant stole 45 Lewis Avenue, a lot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, by filing a backdated deed containing the forged signature of a man who bought the lot in 1999. Having been granted ownership of the property, the defendant sold it twice: in March 2011 to the owner of an adjacent laundromat for $12,000 and in April 2011 to another man for $11,000.
The evidence further showed that the defendant stole 139 Vanderbilt Avenue, a three-story brownstone in Fort Greene. The house was purchased in 1982 by Dolores Teel, who died in 2001, with the home passing on to her family members. Around April 2011, the defendant filed a deed, backdated prior to Teel’s death and bearing her forged signature, to gain ownership of the house. He received several bids from potential buyers, some exceeding $1 million, but was not able to produce a valid title to complete the sale.
Around October 2012, according to testimony, the defendant negotiated a deal to sell 64 Hart Street, a multi-family home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, by falsely representing himself to be the owner’s attorney and presenting documents containing her forged signature. The property was purchased in 1975 by Mary Brown and was inherited by her daughter when she died in 1994. An investor the defendant was negotiating with paid him over $20,000 for the deed and related fees after the investor was provided with fraudulent contract of sale and deed.
The jury additionally heard evidence about an uncharged larceny in which the defendant stole 543 Lexington Avenue, a two-story home in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He did that around May 2003 by, again, forging and backdating a deed. The defendant then sold that home to an associate, bringing eviction proceedings against the rightful owner, Jerome Farrell, who lived there until his death in February 2015.
The defendant was indicted and arrested in 2013 and was later charged in a separate 2014 indictment in relation to the Lewis Avenue property.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Frank Dudis and Assistant District Attorney Cooper Gorrie of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Richard Farrell, Unit Chief, and Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division and Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.