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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 13, 2022

Judge sentences St. Louis man for identity theft scheme

ST. LOUIS – United States District Judge Henry E. Autrey sentenced Arondo Harris to a term of 41 months in federal prison on January 12, 2022.  Harris was convicted by a jury in May of six counts of identity theft.  This case is of significance because the identity theft arose in connection with Harris’ filing of counterfeit quit claim deeds with the City of St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Office.

 

When property located in the City of St. Louis, Missouri is to be transferred through a quit claim deed, the grantor, the current owner of the property, and the grantee, the future owner of the property, must sign the quit claim deed, and their signatures must be authenticated by a licensed notary public. 

 

According to court documents, between January 9, 2019 and February 6, 2019, Harris presented to the City of St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Office three quit claim deeds that contained the forged signatures of the properties’ true owners. Each of the forged signatures had had been falsely authenticated through the seal and forged signature of a licensed notary public.  The property owners of one of the residences had died prior to the forgery of their signatures.

 

As a result of the false notarization of the quit claim deeds, representatives of the Recorders Office accepted the deeds as legitimate and falsely recorded Harris as the owner of three residences located in the City of St. Louis. 

 

The Court determined that Harris’ conduct resulted in losses of more than $150,000 to the legitimate owners of the properties. It also determined that Harris caused substantial financial hardship to one of the victims because that individual was left homeless by the fraudulent activities.

           

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and was prosecuted based upon a referral by the Circuit Attorney’s Office for the City of St. Louis.

Topic(s): 
Mortgage Fraud
Updated January 13, 2022