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Scam artist Queens clan ran ‘one-family crime spree,’ stole dead man’s $700,000 house: D.A.

Construction Scams

Scam artist Queens clan ran ‘one-family crime spree,’ stole dead man’s $700,000 house: D.A.


A family of Queens scammers used a fake will to take a dead man’s house, and stole the identities of at least 20 children to score COVID relief funds and tax refund money, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The ghoulish plot to steal Russell Butler’s $700,000 Laurelton home started sometime after his death on Nov. 10, 2010.

The retired Port Authority accountant had no children and left no will, but he did leave personal documents behind in his vacant single-family home on 225th St. near 137th Ave.

By 2014, Stephanie Bailey, 50, moved her family in, prosecutors said. Neighbors started noticing construction and renovations over the next two years, which led to several Department of Buildings complaints, public records show.

In 2017, Bailey’s daughter, Chianti Bailey, 31, submitted a bogus will in Bronx Surrogates Court, claiming to be Butler’s great-granddaughter and his sole beneficiary.

That will was accepted the next year, and in 2020, Chianti Bailey became the home’s owner — and then took out a $200,000 mortgage against it.

She also claimed nearly $95,000 in unclaimed funds owed to Butler’s estate.

Stephanie Bailey was busy over those years as well — inventing a fake landlord so she can claim she was renting Butler’s house, all to steal nearly $100,000 in Section 8 government housing assistance, prosecutors allege.

A few years after his death, Butler’s three nephews — his actual descendants — learned that people were living in his house without permission,…

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