Trickery, Fraud and Deception
In the fast moving world of Brooklyn real estate, for some it feels more like the Wild West – developers and investors looking to cash in on the gold rush don’t always play by the rules.
Meet Tia Strother, she’s a young mother whose family has been living in Bedford-Stuyvesant for five generations. Tia tells us how horrifying it was to learn that her 90-year-old great grandmother was convinced to sign away the family home to a speculator. She did so for no money and with no lawyer present. Now the family is fighting to hang on to the house.
And we visit Prospect Lefferts-Gardens to get the story of a vacant lot at 237 Maple Street. Neighbors – new and old – have spent the last five years transforming this one small piece of Brooklyn from a dumping ground to a thriving community garden. They put together a composting program and arranged visits for kids at a local pre-school; there were summer BBQs and weed picking parties. But all of that came to a halt one day in 2014 when Joseph and Michael Makhani showed up, claiming to own the lot. The only problem: their deed might be fraudulent. Now they are in court, battling it out with the gardeners, trying to establish their ownership of the property in order to build a five-story luxury apartment building. The gardeners and their lawyer have a plan to beat the Makhanis, but the cost of such a victory might be too high.
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Kai Wright is the Features Editor of The Nation and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.
Rebecca Carroll is the Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC.
Karen Frillmann is the Enterprise Editor at WNYC News.
Co-published with WNYC Studios and The Nation. This new podcast takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, and the role race plays in the process.