Thursday, May 24, 2007

Corrections Officer Arrested in Mortgage Fraud


A longtime Miami-Dade corrections officer used his uncle's forged signature -- the uncle had been dead 13 years -- to take a mortgage out on the man's North Miami-Dade home, authorities say.

The officer, Leon K. Lewis, was charged this week with first-degree grand theft, forgery and uttering a forged document.

Lewis, a 22-year officer who worked transporting inmates, resigned earlier this month, the corrections department said Thursday.

According to a newly released arrest warrant, Lewis obtained a $65,000 mortgage on a home at 2232 NW 99th Terr. that had been vacant since Charles Hunter died in October 1993. Hunter's estranged wife, Helen Hunter, disappeared years before that.

The scam came to light in October 2006, when Hunter's sister, Inez Rolle, discovered that the three-bedroom home had been transferred to her nephew, Lewis. Rolle is a retired corrections officer.

The deed, recorded in July 2006, had Hunter's signature and ''were obvious forgeries,'' corrections internal affairs Sgt. Dorothy Smith wrote in an arrest warrant.

''For a member of the law enforcement community to commit mortgage fraud, or any type of crime, violates everything one is supposed to uphold when taking their oath of office or putting on their uniform,'' Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said in a statement.

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