Attorney, landscaper plead guilty for trying to steal New York City homes

Fraud scheme targeted properties with deceased owners

Two Men Plead Guilty in Scheme to Steal New York City Homes
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A disbarred attorney and a landscaper have pleaded guilty to orchestrating an elaborate scheme to steal residential properties through the submission of falsified deeds to New York City authorities. 

Russell Carbone and Terrell Hill’s modus operandi involved targeting homes left vacant due to deceased owners whose heirs hadn’t claimed the titles, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a press release.

Hill, the landscaper, identified seemingly abandoned properties and informed Carbone, the disbarred attorney, who then exploited the situation, often involving homes in foreclosure.

Following the duo’s guilty pleas, a judge invalidated deeds for seven homes in Queens and two in Nassau County, allowing them to be rightfully returned to their owners. 

District Attorney Katz said 14 homes had been returned to their rightful owners.

Carbone, 69, and Hill, 40, admitted guilt to charges including first-degree scheme to defraud and six counts of offering a false instrument for filing. 

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Carbone’s corporation, RC Couture Realty Inc., also pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property and offering false instruments for filing. Carbone was ordered to pay $56,960 in restitution for unlawfully collecting rent on seized properties, and his notary license was revoked. 

RC Couture Realty Inc. faces a $100,000 fine.

The stolen homes in Queens were on various streets in Jamaica, Laurelton Gardens, and St. Albans, while the Nassau County properties were in West Hempstead and Westbury. Carbone will pay restitution using funds acquired from illicit rent collections. Hill, facing up to three years in prison, will be sentenced on Jan. 30.

The charged scheme involved forging signatures on property records between Nov. 8, 2019, and Feb. 14 of this year. Hill and Carbone used fraudulent notary stamps, ordered from Amazon, and filed the counterfeit documents with the New York City Department of Finance. 

The pair targeted homes whose owners had passed away, even attempting to coerce occupants into leaving by posing as the new owners.