Prosecutors charge caregiver with theft of elderly woman’s Miami investment properties

Gladys Smith doctored quit claim deeds to take ownership of income-producing rentals, authorities say

Caregiver Charged With Theft of Elderly Woman’s Miami Rentals
Photo illustration of Gladys Smith and the two rental properties (Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office)

A caregiver who was responsible for looking after an elderly woman filed false records and forged documents to defraud the senior, including from her Miami real estate, prosecutors claim.  

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office charged Gladys Smith with grand theft of over $100,000 and organized scheme to defraud over $50,000, alleging that she filed quit claim deeds that illegally transferred to her two rental properties and that she profited from a mortgage fraudulently taken out on one of the buildings. Smith, 61, also is charged with exploitation of the elderly, forgery and making false statements to obtain property or credit, according to an affidavit in support of a warrant filed by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office. 

The case marks the latest allegation of real estate theft through fake deeds in Miami-Dade County, with some of the previously accused also targeting the elderly. 

In the most recent case, Miriam Fernandez, 81, came into the care of Smith after renting a room at her Margate home late last year. Fernandez has a health condition that affects her eyesight to an extent that she can’t drive and needs a magnifying glass to read, making her completely reliant on Smith for transportation to medical appointments and reading documents. 

Fernandez, who has no living relatives, collected rental income from her two properties: a two-bedroom condo at 2496 Southwest 17th Avenue in the Silver Bluff neighborhood and a two-story, two-unit apartment building at 2340 and 2342 Northwest 15th Street in Allapattah

In February, Smith fraudulently took the real estate through quit claim deeds that were doctored to include Fernandez’s signature. A friend of Smith’s signed off as the notary on the deeds, and her live-in boyfriend and son signed the documents as witnesses, according to the affidavit. The records also indicated Fernandez’s driver’s license had been presented, even though her license had been revoked and confiscated following a 2021 car accident. 

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After an $80,000 mortgage was taken out on the Allapattah building, nearly $76,000 from the funds was diverted to Smith, the affidavit says. 

Smith exploited Fernandez in other ways, including misrepresenting herself as Fernandez’s daughter to doctors and having her sign a power of attorney document that aided in the property theft, according to the affidavit. Fernandez had agreed to give Smith power of attorney for medical appointments but not over her bank accounts and properties. Still, when Fernandez signed the power of attorney document, she had to trust Smith’s explanation of what the record actually states, the affidavit says. 

After investigators started looking into the case and Fernandez moved out of Smith’s home upon learning of the alleged fraud authorities had Fernandez call Smith. 

“Smith attempted to manipulate [Fernandez] by telling her she was the one who authorized the property transactions,” Ailin Hernandez, a Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office investigator, wrote in the affidavit. Smith insisted Fernandez “was insane and forgetting things,” but Fernandez was clear in her pushback against Smith’s allegations. 

Also during the call, Smith “said that she had returned everything and kept insisting she only did it because the state was going to take custody of the victim and her properties,” Hernandez wrote. 

This week, Tallahassee police arrested Smith, who will be brought to Miami for arraignment, according to WFOR-TV CBS Miami. Calls to Smith’s cell phone weren’t answered and an attorney who previously worked on a real estate deal on Smith’s behalf declined comment. 

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