Disbarred attorney and landscaper used Amazon Notary Stamps to forge deeds and steal nine New York homes

A former attorney and landscaper from New York City have confessed to altering the deeds of nine homes belonging to deceased owners with the intention of unlawfully acquiring the properties.

Russell Carbone, a disbarred attorney, and landscaper Terrell Hill collaborated from November 2019 to February 2023 to identify potential homes. They then proceeded to create counterfeit documents using notary stamps bought online, allowing them to file fraudulent deeds with officials.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz revealed that Hill, who is 40 years old, was assigned the task of identifying abandoned properties and notifying Carbone, who is 69 years old. Subsequently, they proceeded to falsify signatures on property records, ultimately transferring ownership to their own names.

Hill took the necessary steps to have the records notarized by purchasing counterfeit stamps from Amazon. These stamps bore the names of legitimate notaries. Additionally, Carbone, despite his disbarment, also utilized his personal stamp on certain documents.

After a series of efforts, the duo successfully acquired a total of nine properties. Seven of these properties were located in Queens, while the remaining two were in Nassau County. Interestingly, certain deeds were transferred multiple times, resulting in a total of 14 deeds being associated with these nine homes.


Fraudsters left heirs with small shares in their homes

In November 2019, Hill reached out to a Bronx woman who owned one of the properties in Queens that were under scrutiny. He personally contacted her to discuss the possibility of selling her home. Later, he introduced her to his “business partner,” Carbone. They met at a coffee shop, where Hill, the former attorney, presented an offer for the property. However, the woman declined the offer.

In March 2021, Carbone’s company RC Couture Realty Inc. and Hill officially took ownership of the property, as indicated by a recently filed deed. The deed revealed that Carbone and Hill each held a 48% stake in the property, while the remaining 2% was divided between the woman and her sibling, with each of them owning 1%.

The siblings’ signatures were forged by the pair, who also used a fake notary stamp. The real notary, when questioned, confirmed that the stamp was not hers.

In 2021, there was a similar incident involving a property in Jamaica, Queens. The heir stated to investigators that he had not signed any such document, and the notary on the papers also confirmed this.

When Carbone became the new owner of the property, he reached out to one of the original owner’s nephews who was currently residing there. In his letter, Carbone explained the change in ownership and attempted to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement that would encourage the nephew to vacate the premises voluntarily, thus avoiding the need for eviction proceedings.

Fraudulent rents to be paid back

Carbone, residing on Beach Ninth Street in Far Rockaway, and Hill, residing on Woodfield Road in West Hempstead, admitted their guilt in front of Queens Supreme Court Justice Leigh Cheng. They pleaded guilty to a first-degree scheme to defraud, as well as six counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

RC Couture Realty Inc., a corporation run by Carbone and his wife, Galyna Couture, 61, admitted guilt to a series of charges. These included criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree and six counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. As a result, the company was directed to pay a fine of $100,000.

Carbone must repay $56,960 in rent that he unlawfully obtained by taking over the properties. The amount will be returned to the rightful owners’ heirs. Hill faces a potential prison sentence of three years, scheduled for January 30, 2024.

According to a press release, Katz stated that three years ago, when the Housing and Worker Protection Bureau was established, her commitment was to safeguard homeowners from predatory real estate scams, particularly those that prey on vulnerable neighborhoods. She further highlighted the bureau’s accomplishments in reversing the fraudulent actions of scammers and con artists. Moreover, she emphasized the bureau’s innovative approach of utilizing a state statute to restore stolen properties to their rightful owners.

“Our office has successfully concluded the largest prosecution we have ever undertaken, resulting in the restoration of 14 homes to their rightful owners.”

Read More:

Articles: 3338

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *