Long Islander ordered to pay restitution for stealing share of Queens Village family home willed to niece: DA

An Elmont man was sentenced Wednesday in Queens Supreme Court for filing a fraudulent deed on a home he did not fully own, with a share of the property willed to his niece.
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A Long Island man was sentenced Wednesday in Queens Supreme Court for filing fraudulent paperwork to claim he fully owned a Queens Village home when his niece had actually inherited half of it. Wagner Recio, 52, of Butler Boulevard in Elmont, pleaded guilty in December 2022 to filing falsified documents the previous year in order to obtain a mortgage against the value of the Queens Village property and kept the financial proceeds for himself.

According to the charges, Recio and his brother, Alejandro Recio, jointly owned a house on 220th Street in Queens Village as Tenants in Common (TIC), allowing each owner undivided interest to sell, transfer or borrow against their own share in the property.

When Alejandro Recio died in 2014, his ten-year-old daughter became the sole heir of her father’s share of the property, according to her father’s will. The child’s mother was designated by the court to act on her behalf.

Between June 1 and July 13, 2021, Recio filed affidavits with the Equity Title and Meadowbrook mortgage companies, claiming that he was the sole heir to his brother’s interest in the home. He also arranged for three other individuals to file separate affidavits attesting to his fraudulent claim.

Recio filed a closing and revised property deed naming himself the sole owner. The falsified deed was filed with the New York City Register in Queens shortly afterward.

Meadowbrook Financial Brokers Inc. issued a mortgage to Recio for $261,000. Approximately $145,000 was used to pay off a previous mortgage on the house, and approximately $97,000 was issued directly to Recio as a cash payout. In January 2022, the child’s mother discovered the changed deed and contacted the office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

“This defendant falsified documents to steal interest in a home that was not rightfully his, but was, in fact, his niece’s,” Katz said. “After an in-depth investigation by my office’s Housing and Worker Protection Bureau, we were able to bring charges against the defendant and now have made sure that the victim has received what was rightfully hers all along.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Toni Cimino sentenced Recio to a conditional discharge. As part of his plea agreement, Recio agreed to nullify the deed. The house was then sold and the proceeds were paid to his niece as restitution.