The Real Deal New York

Ex-City Council candidate indicted on housing fraud charges

Cheryl Keeling collected nearly $200K in rent on a Harlem brownstone she didn't own: DA
By Chava Gourarie | September 21, 2016 02:30PM

Cheryl Keeling and Harlem brownstones

Cheryl Keeling and Harlem brownstones

A property manager who unsuccessfully ran for City Council three years ago was indicted Wednesday for allegedly masterminding a housing fraud scheme.

Cheryl “Shelley” Keeling, 65, of Riverdale, allegedly earned $5,000 a month in rent from tenants at a Harlem brownstone that she didn’t own, the District Attorney’s office claims. Keeling was indicted on charges that she unlawfully collected close to $194,000 in rent between 2011 and 2014 and for failing to pay taxes on that income, among other charges.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Keeling sold the Harlem brownstone in 2007 and the new owner took two mortgages out on the property, including one with a principal balance of $1.5 million. The new owner then defaulted on the mortgage. When the new owner died suddenly in 2011, Keeling pretended to be the building’s manager, collecting the rent that should have gone to the property’s lenders, Bank of America and Ocwen Loan Services, the district attorney’s office claims.

The former high school track coach ran for a District 11 council seat in the North Bronx as a Democrat in 2013. At the same time, she was allegedly pulling off her rent scheme.

In 2013, Keeling told the Riverdale Press that she owned Capital Management Group, a real estate firm that managed housing units in Manhattan and the Bronx. Keeling’s campaign platform was “running 4 change” and she told the Riverdale Press at the time, “I don’t have positions. I have passions.”

Vance’s office said she used the income from tenants to purchase meals, luxury goods at Bloomingdale’s and outstanding credit card balances.