In one of the more audacious moves by real estate fraudsters, it looks like a group including a disbarred lawyer faked being on the board of directors of churches to sell properties the churches owned. They have been selling empty lots to developers that were donated to the churches years ago.
Churches on the city’s South and West Sides have had at least 20 parcels sold out from under them in unauthorized sales, the Chicago Tribune reported in Sunday’s editions.
“They’re taking advantage of the most vulnerable,” said First Presbyterian Church of Chicago Pastor Gerald Wise, whose church lost four parcels in bogus sales, with more than $1.1 million changing hands. “Those parcels are our dowry.”
Court records indicate the lots, mostly vacant land located in neighborhoods showing signs of gentrification, have been sold in transactions linked to a disbarred Berwyn attorney, the Tribune reported.
The transactions follow the same pattern: A bogus board of directors approves the sale to fictitious buyers, who quickly transfer the property to one of three real estate companies with a single Berwyn address.
The address belongs to Phillip Radmer, who surrendered his law license in March 2000, according to the Tribune. Telephone calls seeking comment from Radmer Sunday were not immediately returned.
The Rev. E. Stephen Roberts, pastor of Garfield Park Baptist Church on Chicago’s West Side, said he was unaware two of the church’s parcels had been sold when he was contacted by the Tribune.
“Whoever bought it, bought themselves trouble,” he said, adding the church would get its attorneys involved. “It’s pretty sick.” via the Daily Herald