FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Brooklyn Man Indicted for Deed Fraud in Connection
With Six Properties, Including Landmarked Residence in Fort Greene
Also Attempted to Steal Properties in Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York, Scheme Mostly Targeted Homes of Deceased Owners
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, today announced that a Brooklyn man has been indicted for allegedly stealing a 19th century mansion in Fort Greene, as well as stealing or attempting to steal five other properties in a brazen scheme in which he transferred title of others’ properties to himself.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Escalating real estate values in Brooklyn unfortunately make frauds like this inviting to thieves. We vow to continue to vigilantly prosecute scam artists such as this defendant, but at the same time I would urge homeowners to 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 – which would alert them to potential theft and fraud related to their property.”
Sheriff Fucito said, “The Department of Finance, Office of City Sheriff is strongly committed to investigating criminal activity concerning real property fraud. These crimes are financially devastating to the victims and their families, many of whom have spent a lifetime working hard and saving to buy a home. Brooklyn residents have expressed a strong desire to have suspects like this brought to justice and the Sheriff will work collaboratively with the District Attorney to ensure that happens.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Aderibigbe Ogundiran, 36, of 123 Albany Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley on a 64-count indictment in which he is charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, first- and second-degree attempted grand larceny, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first- and second-degree identity theft, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and second-degree criminal impersonation. He was ordered held on $200,000 bond or $100,000 bail and to return to court on June 7, 2017. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison on the top count.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, 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, targeting properties whose title holders were deceased or properties that no one seemed to be taking care of.
It is alleged that 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 indictment charges the defendant with committing crimes involving the following properties:
- 176 Washington Park in Fort Greene: 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 in Crown Heights: 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 in Bedford-Stuyvesant: 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 in 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 in Bedford-Stuyvesant: 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 in Bedford-Stuyvesant: 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 Acting District Attorney said that in at least one instance, involving 42 Albany Avenue, the defendant collected rent from a tenant after leasing out an apartment. In another instance, involving 1424 Fulton Street, 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.
The investigation began after the resident of 176 Washington Park 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.
The case was investigated by Sheriff Detective Michael Trano, under the supervision of Sheriff Detective Sergeant Teresa Russo, of the New York City Department of Finance, New York City Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Also assisting the investigation from the New York City Department of Finance were Deputy City Register Zena Spence, Sheriff Detectives Kenneth Clark and Richard LeBlond, Deputy Director of Security Mark Rojas, and Security Coordinator Robert Farrugia.
The case was additionally investigated by Investigator Dedra Prince of the New York City Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Field Investigations and Postal Inspector Michael K. Slavkovsky of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney James Mariani, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Frauds Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.