Abbott targets Houston mortgage scheme

By Chris Rizo | Jun 4, 2008

Greg Abbott

HOUSTON, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has obtained a temporary restraining order against several people accused of conspiring to steal homes from deceased homeowners and their heirs.

Lanier King, Edward Charles Gray and nine others allegedly conspired in a residential real estate scheme by relying on forged and backdated signatures on fraudulent deeds and trusts.

The attorney general said the suspects fraudulently obtained titles to at least 40 Houston-area properties, which were subsequently sold to other conspirators and unsuspecting buyers.

"These defendants are charged with orchestrating a fraudulent real estate scheme at the expense of Texas homeowners," Abbott said in a statement. "Relying on forged documents, backdated property deeds and a sophisticated mortgage rescue scam, the defendants unlawfully took title to properties that did not rightfully belong to them."

The court papers filed in Harris County say King targeted properties owned by the recently deceased, filed a "labor contract with trust deed" on the residence, and falsely claimed that his company, K&W Industries, was performing foundation repair, mold treatment or other repair work for the homeowner.

King is accused of forging and backdating the owners' signatures by several years to indicate the homeowners had executed the deeds prior to their deaths.

The conspiracy cheated the victims and their heirs of properties worth more than $1.5 million, the attorney general's office said.

The state is seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants in addition to civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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