A Queens man who took advantage of his friendship with a 101-year-old neighbor is facing up to 15 years in prison for tricking the centenarian into signing over the deed to his home.
Authorities say Ricardo Bentham, 58, of 118th Avenue, has been charged with grand larceny and other crimes for allegedly conning a neighborhood friend into transferring the deed of his long-time home into the defendant’s name in October of 2017.
According to the criminal complaint, the defendant submitted a quitclaim deed to be filed with the city on October 5, 2017. The document stated that 101 year-old Woodrow Washington was transferring ownership of his 143rd Street home which has a value in excess of $50,000 to the defendant for a sale price of $0. The victim realized something was wrong when he received a letter from the Department of Finance stating that the deed to his home had been transferred to Bentham. An inquiry was conducted and revealed the document that was filed bears the signature of the Mr. Washington along with a notary stamp and signature of a notary.
Mr. Washington stated that the signature on the form is his, however, he is adamant that he never signed any documents in front of a notary.
Mr. Theodore White, the 93-year-old notary, acknowledged knowing Bentham and would often sign documents for him because he trusted him. The document bearing his signature was missing the notary seal, which White always added to a document.
Mr. Washington identified the defendant as a neighborhood friend who offered to help him collect rent from tenants. He recalled signing documents that the defendant brought to his residence and that some were blank.