Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced that, as part of an ongoing investigation, two Queens real estate agents have been charged with taking a total of more than $65,000 in security deposits, agent fees and rental payments from 20 prospective tenants over a one-year period between 2014 and 2015 and then never making the apartments available and not returning their deposits. In at least three instances in which prospective tenants were allegedly provided with refund checks, the checks were returned either because the account was frozen/blocked or due to insufficient funds.
District Attorney Brown said, “These arrests are the latest stemming from our ongoing investigation of a Woodside realty company accused of preying on members of the Queens Latino community. Sadly, this case represents an all too common scenario in which allegedly greedy realtors are accused of taking advantage of Queens County’s tight housing market to rob unsuspecting individuals of substantial amounts of their hard-earned savings. To date, our investigation has resulted in three arrests, alleging a total theft of more than $100,000 from 23 prospective tenants.”
District Attorney Brown said that the matter was initially brought to the attention of his office by the television network Univision, and then by Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy organization, and several prospective tenants who met with staff from his Office of Immigrant Affairs who then developed the case by uncovering additional alleged victims. Anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim of the defendants’ alleged scheme is asked to contact his Economics Crimes Bureau at 1-718-286-6673 or his Office of Immigrant Affairs at 1-718-286-6690.
For those who do not speak English, they should call the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and state the language they are most comfortable communicating in and then leave a message in that language with their name and telephone number. Someone who speaks that language will return the call.
Ramon Pineda, Senior Vice President/General Manager, of WXTV Univision 41, said, “At Noticias Univision 41 we are glad that the complaints brought to us by our viewers, and the subsequent story, led to an investigation and prosecution. This is a testament to our news team’s never-ending commitment to serving and empowering our community.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Victor M. Oaxaca (a/k/a/ Manny Hurtado), 43, of Woodside, Queens, and Roger Garcia, 44, of Flushing, Queens, who were both employed by Fast (MORE) – 2 – Solutions Realty (formerly known as Solucions Rapida) and Supreme Realty, all formerly located at 47- 20 48 Avenue in Woodside, Queens.
Oaxaca was arraigned yesterday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Elisa Koenderman on a criminal complaint charging him with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree scheme to defraud, petit larceny and issuing a bad check. Oaxaca, who faces up to fifteen years in prison if convicted, was released under supervision and ordered to return to court on July 12, 2016.
Garcia was also arraigned yesterday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Koenderman on a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree scheme to defraud and issuing a bad check. Garcia, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court also on July 12, 2016.
District Attorney Brown said that, according to one of the criminal complaints, many of the prospective tenants learned of apartments that were available in Queens through ads placed on lampposts by Fast Solutions Realty or Supreme Realty. It is alleged that between February 5, 2015, and October 18, 2015, Oaxaca presented himself as a real estate agent for Fast Solutions Realty and Supreme Realty and that he and an apprehended other individual showed and collected $53,600 in security deposits, agent fees and rent payments from 16 prospective tenants for apartments which were never made available for occupancy to the victims and which Oaxaco and the apprehended other individual never intended on making available to the victims. In two instances, it is alleged that two prospective tenants were provided refund checks that bounced because the account had been blocked or frozen or due to insufficient funds.
According to the second complaint, Garcia presented himself as a real estate agent for Fast Solutions Realty and Supreme Realty between November 15, 2014, and August 6, 2015, and that he and an apprehended other individual showed and collected $14,120 in security deposits, agent fees and rent payments from four prospective tenants for apartments which were never made available for occupancy to the victims and which Garcia and the apprehended other individual neverintended on making available to the victims. In one instance, it is alleged that a prospective tenant was provided a refund check that bounced because the account had been blocked or frozen.
The investigation was conducted by Detective Marcelo Razzo, of the New York City Police Department’s Financial Crimes Task Force, which is under the supervision of Captain Christopher C. Flanagan, Commanding Officer, and by Assistant District Attorney Carmencita N. Gutierrez, Director of the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Detective David Matos, of the District Attorney’s Detective Bureau, as well as coordinators with Make the Road New York.
Assistant District Attorney Heather H. Marshall, of the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys GregoryC. Pavlides, Bureau Chief, and Christina Hanophy and Kristen A. Kane, Deputy Bureau Chiefs, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni. It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty