NYC Family of Con Artists Charged With Litany of Crimes for Decade-Long Scams: DA

More than 30 victims had their identities stolen in the defendants’ scheme, and more remain under investigation, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

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Three family members in New York City were charged with multiple crimes for allegedly pulling off numerous scams over the course of more than a decade, prosecutors said, adding that one of the women being sought is still at large.

Stephanie Bailey, 50, her daughter Chianti Bailey, 31, and her sister Latonya Bailey Dostaly, 45, have been charged with multiple crimes including grand larceny, forgery, perjury, identify theft, defrauding the government and official misconduct, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Wednesday.

Stephanie and Latonya were arraigned on felony complaints charging them with multiple counts of grand larceny, offering false instruments for filing, forgery, making sworn false statements, perjury, identity theft, criminal impersonation, defrauding the government and official misconduct. 

The sisters are scheduled to appear in court once again June 8. If convicted, they each faces up to 52 years in prison.

Chianti remains at large and warrants have been issued for her arrest, according to Katz.

Attorney information for the women was not immediately known.

The charges are in connection to alleged crimes that go back to at least 2014. According to the complaint, retired accountant Russell Butler died in 2010, leaving personal documents inside his home on 225th Street, in the Laurelton section of Queens. Subsequently, Stephanie moved her family into Butler’s home by 2014 and allegedly, shortly after, her daughter Chianti filed a fake will in Bronx Surrogates Court claiming she was the heir to Butler’s estate.

According to the complaint, she was then granted ownership of his house in 2020 and took out a $200,000 mortgage. Additionally, she also allegedly took out more than $100,000 owed to the Butler estate using fake documents.

The district attorney's office, citing the complaint, goes on to allege that Stephanie stole almost $100,000 from the Housing Choice Voucher program commonly known as Section 8. According to the complaint, she applied for housing assistance with New York State Homes and Community Renewal in September 2014 and included in her application a fake lease for the Laurelton house. The federal government sent payments of almost $90,000 to the fake landlord, which Chianti and Latonya deposited into their own bank accounts.

The three woman also allegedly filed fake tax returns seeking refunds -- attempting to steal more than $52,000 from the state and succeeding in stealing almost $38,000 across 12 fake tax returns.

According to the complaint, Latonya allegedly used her position as a Job Opportunity Specialist at the NYC Human Resources Administration to access the agency's electronic files to steal the identities of more than 20 children for use as dependents in her family’s fake tax return scheme. 

In a statement, DOI Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber said: “The HRA employee who is charged here allegedly preyed on the very clients she was supposed to assist, using her access to City files to steal the identities of more than 20 children, which her two relatives – also her co-conspirators – used to file fake tax returns to defraud New York State of tens of thousands of dollars in tax refunds.  Those who seek help from City-administered programs should not thereby become victims of wrongdoing by City employees and others, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to hold such wrongdoers accountable.”

The women ultimately received state tax refunds which they deposited in their bank accounts, according to the district attorney's office. They also allegedly received COVID relief funds sent to the addresses used by taxpayers in their tax returns and deposited the funds into their bank accounts.

More than 30 victims had their identities stolen in the defendants’ scheme, and more remain under investigation, Katz said. 

The scheme did not end there, however, according to prosecutors, since the group allegedly allegedly also tried to steal more than $200,000 in fake unemployment claims filed with the NYS Department of Labor under the names of nine different people -- receiving $123,487 and attempting to steal an additional $97,962.

“As alleged, these defendants used virtually every trick in the book to pull off an assortment of illegal scams over more than a decade – including taking control of the $700,000-plus home of a longtime Laurelton resident who died in 2010," Katz said in a statement. "They stole people’s identities – including the identities of at least 20 children – to use in a large-scale tax fraud scheme, ripped off Section 8 and Covid relief funds, and filed $200,000 worth of false unemployment insurance claims. These defendants will now be held to account for their one-family crime spree.”

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