Wagner Recio, 51, of Elmont, was arraigned Wednesday, Aug. 3, before Queens Supreme Court Justice Toni Cimino on an eight-count indictment charging him with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, residential mortgage fraud, and other charges for allegedly filing fraudulent paperwork to claim full ownership of the $500,000 home that he co-owned with his brother. The brother’s young daughter became the rightful heir to his share of the property when he died in 2014.
According to the charges, Recio and his brother, Alejandro, owned the home located on 220th Street in Queens Village as Tenants in Common (TIC). In New York state, TIC signifies that each owner owns an undivided interest in the whole property, which means they can sell or otherwise transfer or borrow against their own interest in the property. If a tenant in common dies, the deceased person’s interest passes to their heirs or to the person specified in the terms of the deceased person’s will.
Katz said the defendant’s brother passed away in 2014, leaving his biological 10-year-old daughter as the sole heir of his share of the property. At the time of his death, the child’s mother obtained a court order establishing her as the guardian of the minor for any property that her father owned. In January, the mother uncovered that the defendant allegedly changed the deed from “Alejandro Recio and Wagner Recio” to “Wagner Recio.” The victim’s mother then contacted the Queens District Attorney’s Office, and a formal investigation was launched.
Subpoenaed records reveal that, on or about and between June 1, 2021, and July 13, 2021, the defendant allegedly worked with others to steal his niece’s 50% portion of the house.
According to the charges, the defendant filed affidavits with the title and the mortgage companies claiming that he was the sole heir of his brother, Alejandro Recio. The defendant subsequently arranged for three other individuals to file separate affidavits in support of his fraudulent claim. Records show that on or about July 13, 2021, closing took place during which the deed to the property was changed to solely the name of the defendant. The falsified deed was filed with the NYC Register in Queens County shortly afterward.
Katz said, in reliance on the fraudulent heirship documents, Meadowbrook Financial Brokers Inc. issued a mortgage to the defendant for $261,000, of which approximately $145,000 was used to pay off a previous mortgage on the house, and approximately $97,000 was issued directly to the defendant as a cash payout. This all occurred without the knowledge or consent of the deceased co-owner’s daughter, and rightful heir to the property, or her mother, who has served as her court-appointed guardian for the property since 2014.
“As alleged, the defendant used fraudulent records to assume full ownership of a Queens property. Half of which rightfully belonged to his brother’s daughter,” Katz said. “The defendant is accused of unlawfully taking out a mortgage on the property of more than $250,000, with an estimated $97,000 received as a direct cash pay-out, all unbeknownst to his young niece or guardian. The defendant has been indicted on numerous charges for these alleged acts of deed and mortgage theft and faces prison time if convicted.”
Justice Cimino ordered the defendant to return to court on Oct. 4. The accused faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.