The Real Deal New York

BK brownstone thief sentenced to 15 years in prison

Joseph McCray forged a judge’s signature in order to claim he owned a Bedford-Stuyvesant property
December 01, 2016 10:36AM

119 Macdonough Street (credit: Google Maps)

A man who forged a judge’s signature to falsely claim ownership over a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone may serve up to 15 years in prison following his conviction.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said Joseph McCray filed a fraudulent court order with the City Register in 2015, in which he claimed to be the owner of 119 Macdonough Street, DNAinfo reported. The 54-year-old had forged the signature of a Brooklyn Civil Supreme Court Justice, Yvonne Lewis.

In 2000, the property was sold by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to a woman who kept McCray on as a tenant. McCray was evicted two years later after failing to pay rent, but he continued to live in the property. Prosecutors said he then pretended to be the property’s landlord, and even illegally collected rent, the website reported. He also filed a fraudulent deed to transfer ownership of the property into his name.

After filing the fake document, he sold the four-family building for nearly $500,000, and pocketed around $200,000 in profits. He was arrested at his lawyer’s office in July 2015 when he went to pick up a check for $16,000 from the sale of the building. In September, he was convicted of grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument, among other charges.

“This significant prison sentence should serve as a warning to anyone who tries to take advantage of Brooklyn’s booming real estate market by conducting criminal schemes, like the brazen forgeries and theft in this case,” Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzales said in a statement, according to DNAinfo.

Last year, a Queens woman sued the city for more than half a million after her home was stolen with a phony deed. [DNAinfo]Miriam Hall