A Brooklyn man was given a prison sentence of 9 to 18 years after stealing three Brooklyn properties with fake deeds. Carl Smith, a 50-year old resident of Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, impersonated an attorney, attempted to sell properties (receiving bids over $1 million) and started eviction proceedings against the rightful owner of a house he didn’t own.
“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,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alexander Jeong handed down the sentence after a jury convicted Smith last May. Smith, who had prior felony convictions, was found guilty 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.
Smith stole three properties: 64 Hart Street and 45 Lewis Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant and 139 Vanderbilt in Fort Greene.
Smith stole 45 Lewis Avenue in February 2011 by filing a fake deed with the forged signature of a man who bought the property in 1999. He sold the home twice after he gained ownership. In March 2011, he made a deal with the owner of a nearby laundromat for $12,000. He sold the property again a month later for $11,000.
In April of that year, Smith filed a forged deed for 139 Vanderbilt Avenue. The three-story home was purchased by Dolores Teel in 1982. After Teel died in 2001, the house was inherited by her family members. Smith gained ownership of the home with a fake deed backdated to the time of Teel’s death. He received several bids for the property, some over $1 million. However, sales fell through because Smith failed to provide an authentic deed.
The year after, he pretended to be an attorney to negotiate a deal for 64 Hart Street. The home was bought by Mary Brown in 1975 and was passed on to her daughter after her death in 1994. An investor gave Smith $20,000 for the forged deed.
Smith was also involved in another larceny case for which he was not charged. He was said to have filed a false deed for 543 Lexington Avenue in May 2003. He then sold the property to an accomplice and started eviction proceedings against the rightful owner. The owner, Jerome Farell, lived in the house until his death in 2015.
Smith was arrested in 2013. He was indicted in 2014 in connection with the Lewis Avenue property.
The conviction comes as deed fraud cases continue to increase. According to an earlier report from the New York Post, the city’s Department of Finance has 525 active investigations for 671 properties.