Friday, June 12, 2015

Three-Time Loser Gets 28 Years For Forging Title To Dead Houston Woman's Residence & Flipping It To Unwitting Couple; Evidence Points To Scammer Being Part Of Larger Racket Of Title Hijackers Who've Run Dozens Of Similar Home Heists Targeting Mostly Black Neighborhoods

In Houston, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports:
  • Calvin Remo, described by Harris County prosecutor Valerie Turner as a player in one of the biggest deed scam fraud schemes in Harris County history, was sentenced to 28 years for real estate theft [...].

    ***

    A jury found Remo guilty of the scam on May 22 based on testimony the Humble man used falsified deed records to lay claim to a house that really belonged to an absentee owner in California, the only son of a Houston woman who died in 1999. He and an accomplice forged the dead woman's name on a deed and resold that stolen property to an unsuspecting Hispanic family.

    Remo was charged with the theft of only one home but faced a long sentence because he had two prior felony convictions and because of evidence that he was connected to a ring that carried out dozens of similar deed scams. His sentencing was delayed for days after major flooding closed down the Harris County courthouse for two days after the Memorial Day storm, sending water into the basement and entering elevator shafts.

    Cheated home buyers

    In Remo's trial, witnesses said he and another convicted felon, Herther Solomon, allegedly posted for sale signs in Spanish in front of houses they did not own in order to lure unsuspecting buyers. Clemente Puente, a construction worker originally from Monterrey, Mexico, said he and his wife bought a house from the pair as a retirement home in order to live near their grandchildren in Houston.

    ***

    Many false deeds

    Testimony in the trial, records in other criminal cases as well as a civil lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General's Office (go here for temporary restraining orderaccused Remo and Solomon of being part of a larger group of Houstonians who used bogus deeds to steal dozens of properties in different mostly African-American Houston neighborhoods.(1) Case files show many of those scams involved falsifying deed records, sometimes using the names of long-dead property owners to lay claim to mostly empty houses that typically belonged to absentee or elderly home owners.

    There have been so many different organized real estate theft rings in Harris County involving forged deeds that both the Harris County district attorney and the Harris County clerk asked for authorization from the legislature this year to require anyone who records a property sale by deed to present identification that county officials can track in a separate log.
For more, see Humble man sentenced to 28 years for real estate theft (Felon, partner forged records, resold homes that did not belong to them, prosecutors say).

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(1) See Texas AG Takes Legal Action to Halt Houston Area Mortgage Scheme (The Texas Attorney General's civil lawsuit named James Lanier King, Edward Charles Gray, Charles Eddie Hensley; Callie Hall Herpin; Gustavia Renee Hall; Calvin Balanda Remo; Matthew Wade; Cheryl Shree Swinson; Oscar Hernandez; and Vallery’s House, a nonprofit corporation, as defendants.)

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