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Man steals $500,000 house by forging judge’s signature on order granting him sole ownership of property

By Mason White 1:22 PM October 7, 2016
Joseph McCray 

By: Chan Yuan
A man was arrested on a charge of grand larceny after being accused of forging a judge’s signature on an order granting him sole ownership of the property, according to police in New York.

Now, Joseph McCray, 54, of Niagara Falls, is facing up to 22 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of second-degree grand larceny, and one count each of offering a false instrument for filing, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree falsifying business records.

According to the criminal complaint, McCray filed with the City Register a fraudulent court order purportedly signed by Brooklyn Civil Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Lewis, which effectively granted him ownership of 119 McDonough Street.

Four months later, McCray entered into a contract to sell the building for $500,000. He received two checks for $249,713 and he cashed them the next day.

The evidence showed that 119 McDonough Street, a four-family building in the Historic District of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was purchased by a woman in March 2000 from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

McCray was a tenant, but never paid rent. He was eventually evicted, but continued to reside in the building. McCray then commenced a series of legal actions in Civil Court, asserting ownership of the building.

He also presented himself as the landlord and illegally collected rent. He then filed a fraudulent deed with the City Register, transferring ownership of 119 McDonough Street to his name.

The forged court order McCray had filed in January 2015, nullified the 2006 deed of the rightful owner, purportedly giving the defendant sole ownership of the building.

He then completed the contract of sale with a lawyer.