Friday, November 20, 2015

Brooklyn Judge Temporarily Slams Brakes On Convicted Scammer/Real Estate Developer Using Dubious Deed To Claim Ownership Over Disputed Lot; Orders Probe To Find Rightful Inheritors Of Property Currently Used As Community Garden

In Brooklyn, New York, DNAInfo New York reports:
  • The hunt is on for the heirs to a local community garden lot after a Brooklyn judge questioned the ownership of the Maple Street property in a decision — and appointed a guardian to find its rightful inheritor.

    In a decision filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Nov. 6, Judge Mark Partnow dismissed the ownership claim of "Housing Urban Development LLC"(1) at 237 Maple St. — an empty Prospect-Lefferts Gardens lot planted and maintained by the Maple Street Community Garden. Partnow wrote in his decision that the deed claiming the company bought the space in 2003 from the “sole survivors” of the previous owners for $5,000 “is of dubious validity."

    The deed says the LLC, which is controlled by brothers Joseph and Michael Makhani,(2) bought the property from “Alexander Kirton and Alan Kirton as sole survivors for the estate of Oscar and Germaine Kirton,” who owned a home on the lot that burned down in 1997, the gardeners and their advocates have found.

    However, the decision from Partnow points out, no address, phone number or attorney is listed for either Alexander or Alan Kirton on “the deed at issue.”

    To clarify the rightful owner of the garden space, Partnow ordered an independent legal guardian to make “diligent and exhaustive efforts” to find Alexander, Alan or any heirs to the Kirton estate. The judge did not specify a deadline for that investigation.

    He also ordered that, until that process is complete, the LLC cannot eject the garden from the property, interfere with their activities, develop on the property or file new applications for building there; the Makhanis filed permits to build a five-story building on the garden lot in December of 2014, records show.

    The decision is the latest in a long fight between the Maple Street gardeners and the Makhanis. The trouble began in earnest in the fall of 2014 when the brothers tried to rip up the garden before police ordered them to stop because they couldn’t prove they owned the lot.
    ***
    “We are really happy with the decision,” Segal said in a statement. “Judge Partnow took care to weigh the impacts of potentially illegal development on the local community and to consider the entirety of the record before him.”
For more, see Deed for Disputed Maple Street Community Garden is 'Dubious,' Judge Says.
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(1) Calling themselves "Housing Urban Development LLC," if "[r]easonably calculated to convey the false impression that such name or business has some connection with, or authorization from, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, [...] which does not in fact exist ..." may constitute a violation of federal law that might rise to the level of a crime. See 18 U.S. Code § 709 - False advertising or misuse of names to indicate Federal agency. See, generally:
(2) See The New York Times: Student Filmmakers, Not Ceasing or Desisting:
  • [B]oth Makhani brothers pleaded guilty in federal court in 1999 to taking part in a scheme involving foreclosed properties in Queens; they were fined and sentenced to three months in prison. And last December, HPD and two other companies in which Joseph Makhani is a principal pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court to filing false deeds as part of a housing scam in Queens. The companies were fined $5,000 each.

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