DA Vance: Phony Real Estate Agent Sentenced to 3-to-6 Years in Prison For Stealing $250,000 in Down Payments Through Harlem Property Scam


October 26, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of DAN STERN, 52, to 3-to-6 years in state prison for stealing approximately $250,000 from four potential real estate investors in Harlem. On September 28, 2016 the defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to all the charges in the indictment against him, Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. As part of the sentence, the court executed judgment orders holding STERN liable to repay approximately $250,000 to his victims.

“From posing as a real estate agent to opening a phony brokerage office in Harlem, this defendant went to great lengths to scam potential investors,” said District Attorney Vance. “As long as New York’s real estate market continues to thrive, theft of this nature will persist. I urge anyone who believes that he or she may have been the victim of this type of fraud to call my Office’s Financial Frauds Hotline at 212-335-8900.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and statements made on the record in court, between October 1, 2014, and May 30, 2015, STERN opened Harlem Village Realty at 104-106 East 126th Street and advertised several properties for sale unbeknownst to the true owners and without their permission or authority to do so. The properties advertised included: 41 West 124th Street, 36 West 128th Street, 52-54 East 126th Street, 342 West 123rd Street and 175 West 126th Street. The properties STERN targeted included two churches and several buildings that were facing foreclosure or in need of major repairs.  

Once a prospective buyer expressed interest in a property, STERN would have contracts prepared for the fraudulent sale and accept checks for the down payment. To further the scam, STERN, in some instances posed as a real estate agent or attorney to the investors and even opened a business bank account in another person’s name listing himself as the signatory. He deposited and cashed the down payment checks he received from the scam into this account. When the victims contacted STERN requesting the return of their money, the defendant did not return their phone calls. To date, STERN has not returned any of the stolen funds, which he used to pay for personal expenses, including credit card payments, membership to a country club, maintenance for luxury cars, and cash withdrawals.  

Assistant District Attorney Nashonme Johnson prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Former Investigative Analyst Anne McGrath, former Financial Investigator Frank Nonenmacher, Financial Investigator Michael Vecchio of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau (“FAFI”) provided assistance, under the supervision of Irene Serrapica, Deputy Bureau Chief of FAFI, and Robert Demarest, Bureau Chief of FAFI.

District Attorney Vance thanked Detective Peter Sganga of the NYPD’s Bronx Grand Larceny Squad, for his assistance with the case.  

Defendant Information:

DAN STERN, D.O.B. 09/18/1964
Bronx, NY

Convicted: 

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, two counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, two counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count

Sentenced:

  • 3-to-6 years in state prison
  • $250,000 in civil judgement orders