A Jamaica man was charged with allegedly conning a 101-year-old man out of his home last year, prosecutors announced on Thursday.
Ricardo Bentham, 58, was charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, Bentham faces anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison.
According to charges, on Oct. 5, 2017, Bentham submitted a quitclaim deed to be filed with the city stating that the 101-year-old victim was transferring ownership of his 143rd Street home, which has a value in excess of $50,000, to Bentham for a sale price of $0.
The victim didn’t realize anything was wrong until he received a letter from the Department of Finance stating that the deed to his home had been transferred to Bentham. An inquiry conducted with the New York City Automated Register Information System found that the document that was filed beared Washington’s signature along with a notary stamp and signature of a notary. While the victim said that the signature was his, he was adamant that he never signed any documents in front of a notary.
Authorities questioned the 93-year-old notary on the documents. He acknowledged that he also knows Bentham from the neighborhood and would often sign documents brought to his home by Bentham because he trusted him. However, the notary said the document bearing his signature was missing the notary seal, which he always added to a document.
The victim identified Bentham as a neighborhood friend who offered to help him collect rent from his tenants. He also stated that he recalled signing documents that Bentham brought to his residence and that some of the forms were blank.
“This is a particularly troublesome case. The defendant was supposedly assisting his centenarian neighbor collect rent from his tenants, but in actuality the helper is alleged to have duped the old man into signing away his home,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “If the charges are proven true, the defendant now faces prison time for his actions.”