Suspended Brooklyn lawyer Sanford Solny has been charged with stealing the deeds to eight properties facing foreclosure in Central and East Brooklyn, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Monday.
Solny defrauded vulnerable homeowners who believed he was a negotiating a short sale on their behalf for the Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York, Ocean Hill, Cypress Hills, East Flatbush and Flatbush homes worth almost $8 million, Gonzalez said.
He said Brooklyn's valuable real estate market continued 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," he said.
He urged anyone considering selling their property to be prudent with whom they did 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," he added.
Between May 2012 and November 2020 Solny, whose law license was suspended in 2012 for abusing his power of attorney for his uncle, allegedly engaged in a fraud scheme to steal deeds and collect rent from eight residential properties in Brooklyn, targeting seven victims who owned properties in foreclosure.
The case alleges unlicensed brokers contacted the victims and referred them to Solny to negotiate a short sale, whereby lenders would drop foreclosure action and forgive loans.
Solny then either falsely told homeowners they were required to sign their deeds over to him so he could begin a short sale negotiation, or had the victims sign documents he claimed were part of the short sale process, but actually relinquished ownership of their property, the DA's case alleges.
The DA's office said there was no evidence of Solny attempting to make short sales of any of the properties, and he actively blocked homeowners from selling their properties without him.
Solny then collected over $600,000 in rent from tenants he brought in or existing tenants at the eight properties.
Solny was arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme where he faced a 63-count indictment, 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.