FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 13, 2023
Long Island Man Indicted for Stealing $925,000 Through Deed Fraud
Involving Properties in Brooklyn and the Bronx
Defendant Allegedly Impersonated a CEO for One Theft,
Directed Someone Else to Impersonate a Deceased Homeowner for the Other
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Long Island man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny for allegedly fraudulently transferring the titles of a property in Brooklyn and a property in the Bronx (where Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann once resided) and selling them for a total of approximately $925,000. It is alleged the defendant went to elaborate lengths to perpetrate the two separate frauds, including using a variety of fraudulent documents and, in one case, had someone else impersonate a deceased Bronx homeowner at a closing. The defendant also allegedly attempted to steal nearly $300,000 in COVID-19 tax relief payments.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly filled his pockets with the ill-gotten gains of two separate real estate transactions in which he stole – then sold – the titles to two New York City properties while also attempting to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 tax relief funds. We will now seek to hold the defendant accountable and will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute deed fraud.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Salome Vega, 46, of Hempstead, New York. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he was charged with two counts of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal impersonation, and second-degree attempted grand-larceny. The defendant was ordered to return to court on December 6, 2023.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 6, 2019, the defendant allegedly sold the title to 1279 East 222nd Street, a two-family house in the Bronx. At the closing, which was held at an office in Midwood, Brooklyn, the defendant had someone impersonate the property’s deceased owner when the defendant fraudulently sold the house to a buyer for $250,000. Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted of kidnapping Charles Lindbergh Jr., once resided in that East 222nd Street house.
Furthermore, according to the investigation, six days later, on August 12, 2019, the defendant opened a business checking account for an entity with the same name as the decedent. On the same day, he allegedly deposited a $242,828 check from the sale of 1279 East 222nd Street into the account. Over the next two months, the defendant allegedly emptied the account.
The title transfer was subsequently vacated by the Bronx County Public Administrator when it was discovered that the property owner of 1279 East 222nd Street died on April 26, 2019, approximately four months before the closing.
Furthermore, according to the investigation, in February 2023, the defendant fraudulently sold 431-435 Autumn Avenue, which includes a two-family house attached to a vacant lot in East New York, Brooklyn, for $675,000. It is alleged the defendant did this by pretending to be the CEO of Merit Homes Inc., which owned the property. The defendant was not associated with Merit Homes Inc., nor was he authorized to sell the property. According to the investigation, the defendant, at the closing, requested that funds from the sale be made payable to him personally in amounts of $100,000, $200,000, $300,000, and $33,772 (the remainder of the funds went to closing costs). The defendant proceeded to cash the payments at various check cashing stores in Queens and Long Island.
It is also alleged that the defendant opened a fraudulent business account for a surveillance company on February 9, 2023. The following day, on February 10, 2023, the defendant, according to the investigation, caused a COVID-19 tax relief check from the IRS for $297,368.51 intended for the company to be deposited into this account at a TD Bank branch in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. An alert bank employee spotted the fraud and froze the account before any funds could be withdrawn.
The District Attorney thanked the KCDA Detective Investigators for their assistance on this case.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Sergey Marts, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Frank Longobardi, Chief of the District Attorney’s Construction Crimes and Labor Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and Assistant District Attorney Gregory Pavlides, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.