Monday, June 15, 2015

KC Man Pinched For Allegedly Forging, Flipping 'Dirty Deeds' On Homes Belonging To Both Living & Dead Victims; Previous Felony Convictions Leave Suspect Facing 30 Years In Slammer

In Kansas City, Missouri, KSHB-TV Channel 41 reports:
  • Jackson County prosecutors have charged a man in connection with a web of forged housing deeds.

    The developments come two years after a 41 Action News investigation uncovered the real estate fraud scheme, which included forged signatures of both the living and the dead.

    Prosecutors have now charged Willis L. Watson, 35, with nine different counts of felony forgery and theft. 41 Action News first confronted Watson about the forged deeds in February 2013. Surveillance video at the Jackson County Courthouse later appeared to show Watson moments before the fraudulent deeds were recorded.

    Even after the original investigation, a follow-up report revealed Watson had continued shifting the properties. Court documents allege Watson sold a Raytown home in the summer of 2013 for $11,000 after forging the names of the previous owners.

    As part of the criminal investigation, detectives tracked down many of the victims interviewed by 41 Action News, along with several notaries whose supposed stamps and signatures also appeared on the fraudulent documents .

    With assistance from the Secret Service, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation. In a statement, department spokeswoman Sgt. Ronda Montgomery credited the 41 Action News stories.

    “This case has been complex with suspects and crimes that are time-consuming to investigate, involving multiple agencies,” Montgomery wrote. “41 Action News has been instrumental in this investigation and has uncovered additional evidence to our case.”

    In early February, Watson sent a letter to investigative reporter Ryan Kath, saying he had been mistakenly connected to the fraud scheme. “I hereby request that you print an immediate retraction and apology. I expect the retraction to receive the same prominence as the original article did,” the letter read.

    Two weeks later, prosecutors filed the extensive charges.

    Because he has previous felony convictions, prosecutors say the series of charges could bring up to 30 years in prison.

    Bobby Broils expressed relief that someone was being held accountable for forging his mother’s name on a housing deed four years after she died. “He needs to go to jail. That just isn’t right,” Broils told 41 Action News.

    The ongoing series of reports later highlighted how shockingly easy it is to steal a property. Missouri lawmakers have proposed legislation that is supposed to help prevent forged deeds and also make it easier for victims to correct the legal headache.

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