FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Former Brooklyn Attorney Indicted for Real Estate Fraud in Connection With Four Properties Valued at Nearly $2.3 Million
Scheme Targeted Homes in Foreclosure in East Flatbush, Canarsie, East New York And Ocean Hill; Defendant Allegedly Collected $63,995 in Rent
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a disbarred Brooklyn attorney has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with stealing the deeds to four properties, three of which were in foreclosure, for a total of approximately $2.3 million by defrauding homeowners, most of whom believed he was negotiating a short sale on their behalf.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly defrauded distressed homeowners when he stole the titles to their homes while pretending to help them, and we are committed to holding him accountable. Because people want to live in Brooklyn, scammers continue to target homeowners, and I encourage every property owner to take steps to protect themselves.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Sanford Solny, 65, of Midwood, Brooklyn, Albany Ave Realty Inc., East 100 St Realty Inc., Pleasant Pl. Realty Inc., and Bear Realty & Management Corp. They were arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an 8-count indictment in which they are variously charged with first-degree and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree scheme to defraud, and second-degree grand larceny. Solny was released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 22, 2023.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between October 2012 and December 2022, the defendant, an attorney whose license to practice law was suspended in April 2012 and who was disbarred on January 5, 2023, allegedly engaged in a real estate fraud scheme to steal deeds, possess those properties, and economically benefit from four residential properties in Brooklyn, targeting victims who owned properties that were in foreclosure.
It is alleged that various individuals, including unlicensed brokers, contacted the victims and referred them to the defendant to negotiate a short sale, i.e., selling the property to someone else under terms communicated to and approved by a lender. In exchange, the lender would then drop the foreclosure action and forgive the loan amount owed.
The defendant allegedly met most of the victims at his office in Borough Park where he either falsely told them that they were required to sign their deeds over to him for the defendant to begin a short sale negotiation on their behalf or had the victims sign documents that the defendant claimed were part of the short sale process but, unbeknownst to them, actually relinquished ownership of their property to the defendant.
The indictment charges the defendant with crimes involving the following one- and multi- family homes with a total current value of approximately $2.295 million:
- 1247 Albany Avenue in East Flatbush
- 1429 East 100th Street in Canarsie
- 1100 Sutter Avenue in East New York
- 10 Pleasant Place in Ocean Hill
In most cases, the defendant allegedly paid the owner’s fee, ranging from $350 to $10,000, for transferring the property to him or to various corporations he controlled. In some cases, the defendant allegedly told the victims that the lenders preferred or required that the homeowners vacate the property for the short sale to occur.
Over the years that the defendant claimed to be in negotiations, when victims asked him about the negotiations or possible sales, he allegedly offered an array of excuses and explanations.
The defendant allegedly collected at least $63,995 in rent from tenants he brought in or existing tenants at three of the properties the victims transferred to him. As record owner, if any of the properties were to be sold, the defendant would also benefit from the increase in value accrued over the last several years.
As a result of the defendant’s alleged fraudulent scheme, the victims lost their properties and potential rental income. In addition, their credit scores and ability to obtain new loans rapidly deteriorated as most of the foreclosures remain active.
The District Attorney offered the following tips to homeowners to protect themselves:
- Make sure the NYC Dept. of Finance has the correct address to receive property notices.
- Designate a trusted family member or friend to receive notices if you are unable.
- Register with the NYC Department of Finance to receive automatic notifications regarding any changes to your deed or property records.
- Never sign any contract you do not understand.
- For more information visit http://brooklynda.org/deedfraud/
The case was investigated by Detective Candido Salgado of the KCDA New York City Police Department Squad. Supervising Financial Investigator Deborah Wey, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, assisted in the investigation.
The District Attorney thanked the New York City Department of Finance and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Joseph DiBenedetto, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Gregory C. Pavlides, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.