Harlem man charged with fraud, larceny for trying to sell a building that wasn’t his

October 15, 2009 09:28AM

A Harlem man has been charged with fraud and larceny, after allegedly swindling millions in investments in a building he pretended to own. Prosecutors say that Henry Vargas, 35, forged documents to show he owned a 60 percent stake in 21-41 Lenox Avenue, otherwise known as the Triangle Building in Harlem. He is said to have obtained the necessary information by posing as a buyer, and used it to convince the New York Road Runners Club, which runs the New York City Marathon, to sign an $8.5 million contract to buy the building from him. The money has been recovered, but the non-profit lost $300,000 in legal fees and other expenses. Vargas also allegedly persuaded plumber and investor Pete Skyllas to pony up $1 million for an option to purchase the building, which was converted into a fake mortgage when Skyllas couldn’t come up with the asking price. The Triangle Building is actually owned by Manuel Duran Jr., who did not know about the alleged scam. [NYDN]