Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lawsuit: Niece Used 4-Year Charade To Dupe HOA, Landlord Into Thinking Dead Aunt Was Still Alive To Keep Deceased's $287/Month Rent Stabilized Brooklyn Apartment

In Brooklyn, New York, the New York Post reports:

  • A Brooklyn scammer spent four years fooling her dead aunt’s co-op board into thinking the woman was still alive, to keep living in the rent-stabilized apartment for $287 a month, a lawsuit charges.(1)

    Brenda Williams, 55, gave neighbors regular health updates on Debbie Vaughan long after the woman died at age 93 in 2007 — and pulled out all the stops to keep board members at the Prospect Park building from trying to contact the woman, the lawsuit says.

    Williams claimed “her aunt was paranoid and senile and if we knocked on the door, she would have a heart attack,” said the co-op board’s president, Diana Hansen-Young. The suit was filed Phillip Cramer, the apartment's owner.

    The alleged scam was uncovered in 2010, when Hansen-Young and a plumber went into the apartment on Vanderbilt Avenue to fix a leak. [...] When Cramer checked death records, he found that Vaughan had died almost four years earlier.

    Cramer is now trying to evict Williams from the 550-square-foot apartment, which has hardwood floors, exposed brick and high ceilings — and should rent for about $2,200 a month. Cramer had kept Vaughan’s rent low — even as the neighborhood gentrified — because of her advanced age, poor health and poverty, the suit says.

    Before Vaughan’s death, Williams told Cramer she lived with her aunt and helped out by “cooking for her, bathing her, and taking her to doctors, supermarkets, church and senior-citizen centers,” the suit charges.

    But Williams really lived down the block with a boyfriend, said attorney Peter Sanders, who filed the $405,000 suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court on March 20.

    She moved into the apartment after her aunt died,” Sanders said. “She would pay the rent by money order with her aunt’s name years after her aunt died.”

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