Thursday, June 11, 2015

Elderly NYC Woman: Uptown Deed Thief Filed Phony Papers & Is Trying To Hijack & Flip My $1.5M Home Of 70 Years ... & Give Me The Boot!

In New York City, the New York Daily News reports:
  • Call it the great Hamilton Heights house heist.

    A deed thief is trying to steal a family’s $1.5 million brownstone out from under them, according to papers filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.

    Jacqueline Hembrick, 85, has lived in the four-story Convent Ave. house since her parents bought it in 1945 — but a cold-hearted con man has forged the deed to the home and has been trying to force her out on the street, the court papers say.

    The “house was fraudulently, indeed criminally, transferred to an individual who has no connection” to Hembrick’s family, named Henry Rothenberg — and he’s apparently been trying to sell it, Hembrick’s son Kevin said in the court filings.

    The brazen fraudster has repeatedly called the police on the Hembricks, falsely reporting break-ins and home invasions at the house, the court papers say. “Each time, the Hembrick family would explain to the police that they have lived there for decades and no one was breaking in,” the filings say.

    Then on Sept. 29, Kevin Hembrick, 62, said he “answered the door and was ordered to leave the house immediately by two black men (one wearing a yarmulke), and one Asian man carrying what appeared to be carpenter/locksmith tools.” Hembrick called the cops himself and the men fled, court papers say.

    Police identified the man in the yarmulke as Rothenberg, who a neighbor said is a former real estate agent. Area residents said the last name is an alias. One of Rothenberg's neighbors on W. 145th St. said he also uses the names Henry Yisrael and Henrique Nixon.

    “We call him Mr. Wall Street,” a neighbor said. “He always walks around in a suit with a briefcase.” ”He ain’t got s--- going on. I know him from the shelter.

    A law-enforcement source said Rothenberg is being actively investigated, and they believe he’s responsible for similar scams on Convent Ave.

    The Hembricks’ headaches started last May, when they got a notice from the city Department of Finance notifying them of an issue with the transfer of the deed to the 15-room house. But Jacqueline Hembrick, who inherited the home after her mother’s death in 1994, had never touched the deed.

    They hired a lawyer, who did a title search and found the deed had been transferred in October 2013 to a woman named Alexis Stanton, who claimed to be the “sole heir” to Hembrick’s mother.

    Stanton then transferred the deed through a company called CLE Abstract to Rothenberg. The family lawyer, Mark Gray, found out that neither Stanton nor CLE Abstract apparently exist.

    Stanton’s name appears to have been lifted from "a series of books called the 'Alexis Stanton Chronicles' by JC Phelps," and CLE Abstract's phone number was actually UNICEF's, the court papers say.

    Using a private investigator, Gray was able to get a phone number for Rothenberg, who wasn’t happy to hear from him. “I have big lawyers, big law firms, and we’re going to sue you and you’ll be sorry you ever messed with me! I’m going to have you disbarred!” Gray quoted him as saying.

    About an hour later, "a person claiming to be 'attorney Mark Schwartz,' but who was obviously Henry Rothenberg using a barely disguised voice, asked for our law firm address and said 'We're coming after you' and we're going to take you down,'" Gray said.

    Hembrick’s family is asking for an emergency court order declaring the deed a phony.

    A spokeswoman for the city Department of Finance, Sonia Alleyne, said there’s been a surge in deed fraud in recent years, and stopping it is their “top priority.”

    “In the last year we’ve implemented a number of changes that has resulted in 755 referrals to the Sheriff’s Office and 9 arrests — the first ever for this department," Alleyne said. They've also proposed legislation to attack the problem.

    Sheriff Joseph Fucito told DNAInfo.com, which first reported the Hembricks' case, that, "We're taking proactive steps to protect property owners and pursue individuals who study ways to cheat the property recording process."

    The house built in 1902, has four floors plus a basement, four fireplaces and 15 rooms. Its present value is approximately $1.5 million.

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