A 50-year-old Queens man was indicted Tuesday for allegedly transferring the deed of home that did not belong to him last year, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.
Darrell Beatty is accused of illegally transferring the deed of Jennifer Merin’s Laurelton family home and living there for about a year starting in March 2014. The previous owner that Beatty listed never owned the home, according to prosecutors.
Merin, who now lives on the Upper West Side and declined to give her age, said all of the contents in the home were removed, including antiques and family heirlooms.
“I felt instantly sick. I couldn’t believe it,” Merin said after discovering the garage piled high with broken furniture and destroyed family photos. “I think he picked somebody who seemed vulnerable — I look like a little old lady. Fortunately, I have my wits about me and I don’t give in to being a victim easily.”
Beatty was charged in a 10-count indictment with several offenses, including second-degree burglary and second-degree grand larceny. He was released on $25,000 bail after his arrest in October 2014 and his next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 8.
An attorney for Beatty did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If convicted, Beatty faces up to 15 years in prison.
Merin, who was raised in the home on 141st Avenue her family owned since 1930, first realized something was amiss when she got an unusually high water bill.
When she finally met police at the home, Merin noticed everything in the ground floor was gone, including a four-tier chandelier and a matching pair of 17th century Chinese palace vases. The value of the missing antiques, which were slated to be donated to museums when Merin passed away, was several hundred-thousand dollars, she said.
Merin then fought in civil court to get her home back — Beatty apparently lived in the home for several months after posting bail last year.
“I think he should be jailed. I don’t think he should be out on the street,” she said. “I think he is dangerous to society.”
Merin said she is now trying to get the city to reimburse her for legal expenses.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Merin has been “thrown into a living nightmare.”
“This woman’s home — filled with the memories and mementos of three generations — was allegedly taken from her with the filing of a phony deed,” Brown said in a statement. “The defendant is alleged to have stolen the victim’s home with the stroke of a pen.”