Suspended Attorney Charged With Stealing Deeds To Brooklyn Homes Worth $7.8 Million

Suspended Attorney Charged With Stealing Deeds To Brooklyn Homes Worth $7.8 Million
Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

MIDWOOD – An attorney was arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with stealing the deeds to eight properties in foreclosure worth a total of $7.8 million by defrauding seven homeowners, by allegedly making them believe he was negotiating a sale on their behalf.

In April of 2012, attorney Sanford Solny, 63, had his license to practice law suspended. According to the investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, between May 2012 and November 2020, Solny allegedly engaged in a real estate fraud scheme to steal deeds to and economically benefit from eight residential properties in Brooklyn, targeting seven victims who owned properties that were in foreclosure. According to the investigation, several people, including unlicensed brokers, allegedly contacted the victims and “referred them to the defendant to negotiate a short sale, i.e., selling the property to someone else under terms communicated to and approved by a lender. In exchange, the lender would then drop the foreclosure action and forgive the loan amount owed.”

According to the DA’s office, Solny allegedly met most of the victims at his office in Borough Park where he either falsely told them that they were required to sign their deeds over to him to begin a short sale negotiation on their behalf or he had the victims sign documents that he claimed were part of the short sale process— which in reality, gave him ownership of their property.

The indictment charges Solny with crimes involving the following one and two-family homes with a total current value of approximately $7.8 million:

• 53 Van Buren Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant
• 163 Montauk Avenue in Cypress Hills
• 2 Jardine Place in Ocean Hill
• 161 East 29th Street in East Flatbush
• 2555 Bedford Avenue in Flatbush
• 406 East 21st Street in Flatbush
• 729 Eldert Lane in East New York
• 394 Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant

“There is no record of the defendant attempting to negotiate a short sale with any of the lenders on the properties, despite the federal and state laws that require lenders to make a record of any short sales or attempts to negotiate a short sale for properties the lender is foreclosing on. In fact, on two of the properties, the defendant allegedly actively obstructed attempts by owners to sell their property without him,” the report states.

“Over the months and years that the defendant claimed to be in negotiations when victims asked him about the negotiations, possible sales or when the foreclosure actions would end, he allegedly offered an array of excuses and explanations.”

According to the DA’s office, Solny allegedly collected over $600,000 in rent from tenants he brought in or existing tenants at the eight properties the victims transferred to him. As record owner, if any of the properties were to be sold, he would also benefit from the increase in value accrued over the last several years. Because of this, the victims lost their properties and rental homes.

This morning, Solny was arraigned on a 63-count indictment in which he is charged with second- and fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, and first- and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on February 4, 2021.

“Brooklyn’s valuable real estate market continues to be an attractive target for fraudsters willing to deceive homeowners. These victims, who trusted the defendant to help them avoid foreclosure, instead allegedly had their homes stolen by him and were left facing financial ruin,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said.

“I urge anyone considering selling their property to be prudent about with whom they do business. Be wary of any unsolicited offers of help with your property and do not sign any documents unless you consult with an independently retained attorney.”