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Alexandra Gilmore, 36, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Rebecca Tharpe, 30, of Brentwood, L.I., allegedly tricked Artee McKoy, 93, of 146-04 116th Ave., to refinance his property in Bayside and sell his primary residence, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. The DA claimed Gilmore, the suspected mastermind who was indicted on several charges Feb. 27, posed as McKoy's daughter and used the false identity to eventually foreclose the homeowner's properties."Crimes against the elderly - whether they involve physical or, in this case, financial harm - are despicable because the victims are often lonely and vulnerable," Brown said in a statement.The alleged scheme began in June 2004 when Gilmore, who at the time lived in Massapequa, L.I., befriended McKoy, an old friend of her father. She refinanced his Bayside property, located at 209-47 45th Drive, for $150,000, but after realizing that she could get more equity for the property, Gilmore refinanced it again for $420,000, the DA said.Gilmore allegedly submitted a letter to New Century Mortgage falsely claiming she was McKoy's daughter and refinancing the home to make cash gifts to his children. In reality, according to Brown, she opened an account in a Massapequa bank, without McKoy's knowledge, and directed that all bank statements be sent to her house.Suffering from Alzheimer's disease, McKoy did not know he was being used in the alleged plot, the DA said.In 2005, Gilmore allegedly solicited Tharpe to act as a "straw buyer" and purchase McKoy's Jamaica residence. His signature was forged on a contract of sale that was then used with other false information to obtain a mortgage on the property, Brown said.Gilmore allegedly took home more than $200,000 from the sale, including a $97,000 check that was made out to McKoy, and an additional $130,000 that she secured by setting up a real estate company and falsely claiming to have been owed money from a previous loan on the property, according to the DA.Tharpe allegedly received $102,000 from the sale, Brown said.The DA said bank records indicated that a few monthly mortgage payments were made on the Jamaica property before ceasing all together. The house went into foreclosure. The Bayside property has also gone into foreclosure proceedings.Gilmore's alleged scheme not only focused on the homeowner's property, according to Brown. She applied for two credit cards in McKoy's name that she used to make several purchases, including a hotel stay in Alabama, he said.Brown said the case came to his office's attention when McKoy's goddaughter became suspicious about the women's activity and alerted the authorities.Gilmore and Tharpe, who was arraigned on Feb. 1, were charged with several crimes, including grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument, identity theft and grand larceny as a hate crime."Under the provisions of the New York State Hate Crimes Act of 2000, enhanced charges can be filed when a defendant commits a larceny and selects his or her victim because of their age which is defined as being 60 years of age or older," Brown said in a statement.Gilmore was ordered held on $100,000 bail while Tharpe was held on $25,000 bail, according to a spokeswoman for the DA's office. They were both expected back in court April 3. Each faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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