A Brooklyn man will spend the next three to nine years of his life behind bars after forging a deed and stealing his elderly neighbor’s house.
Winston Gregory Hall, a 37-year-old from East Flatbush known as “Sage El,” was convicted by a jury on Wednesday in front of Justice Danny Chun of grand larceny and other charges after stealing the house owned by his 84-year-old neighbor by forging a deed and other documents that transferred ownership of the property to a trust.
“This case is part of my continuing commitment to ensuring justice for Brooklyn homeowners who are all too often the target of unscrupulous individuals,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
The issue of housing theft has become a major problem in Brooklyn, especially in neighborhoods experiencing rapid gentrification. Borough President Eric Adams and City Councilmember Robert Cornegy held a press conference in November to draw attention to the issue of homes that are systematically stolen through deed theft, fraud, the lien system and the Department of Housing Prevention and Development’s Third Party Transfer program.
“We are taking their homes through foreclosures,” Adams said of the issue back in November. “We are taking their homes through property transfer. We are taking their homes through illegal deeds. And we’re even charging them higher taxes than we’re charging other parts of the city. This is the accumulation of the tactics [faced by] black and brown home owners.”
In January, the Brooklyn Eagle reported that an 85-year-old man lost his home when 29-year-old Jordan Horsford, who was hired by the victim as a caretaker, convinced him to sign over the deed to his home under false pretenses.
In this most recent case, the victim was not even lied to — the defendant merely created a trust in his own name and then used forged documents to claim the home.
On April 16, 2015, Hall created the Winston Gregory Hall Express
Trust and named himself trustee. One week later, a deed was executed
that transferred ownership of the property located at 390 East 49th St.
On May 8, 2015, the deed and related tax documents were forged and filed
at the NYC Register’s Office.
The victim, an 84-year-old woman who lived with a family member in New Jersey, did not know the defendant or have any communication with him about transferring ownership of the house.
Hall absconded during the trial and had to be convicted in absentia
on Oct. 23, 2018. He was arrested two months later in Brooklyn by the
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