What to Know
- In 2014, Marjorie Gilbert, a retired opera singer, transferred control of her home at 540 E. 23rd St. in Brooklyn to her neighbors
- Now Gilbert’s last remaining family members say they believe the Kelleher’s took advantage of her advanced age, and possibly intimidated her
- The Brooklyn DA’s Office sent the I-Team a statement confirming the deed transfer is being actively investigated
Family members of an elderly Brooklyn woman are fuming after learning neighbors have been renting out the sick senior citizen’s house while she sits inside a nearby nursing home.
In 2014, Marjorie Gilbert, a retired opera singer, transferred control of her home at 540 E. 23rd St. to her neighbors, Frances and Thomas Kelleher.
But now Gilbert’s last remaining family members say they believe the Kellehers took advantage of her advanced age, possibly intimidating her into signing over the deed.
"These people were never a part of her life," said Madeline Mallon, Gilbert’s niece. "I think they frightened her to the point that she signed everything over."
Mallon said she became estranged from her aunt a decade before the deed transfer, and only learned of the situation after a tenant of 540 E. 23rd St., Charles Ward, voiced concern about the new landlords.
"They’re renting out seven rooms in this place for cash-only, and putting it in their pocket and living off of it," Ward said. "I think anybody would feel for an old lady who’s stuck somewhere."
Ward and the Kellehers have had an ongoing feud in recent months, beginning when the Kellehers’ son, Raymond Connors, was arrested for allegedly barging into Ward’s room and assaulting him. Connors has pleaded not guilty.
After that, the Kellehers called police on Ward, claiming he vandalized the house. Ward was charged with criminal mischief. He is contesting that.
When asked how they came to own the Ditmas Park house, the Kellehers told the I-Team they became friends with Marjorie Gilbert and she only signed over the deed when Gilbert’s failing health made taking care of the property too difficult.
"Her and my wife became friends," said Thomas Kelleher. "Over the 35 years they did everything. My wife paid her bills. She got Alzheimer’s."
The I-Team has not been able to confirm Marjorie Gilbert’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but Kelleher said the deed was transferred to his family before Gilbert lost any cognitive ability.
"She was perfect, she was a pistol," Kelleher said.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office sent the I-Team a statement confirming the deed transfer "is being actively investigated by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit."
Zenovia Earle, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department for the Aging, said her agency is also aware of the deed transfer.
"A DFTA caseworker has reached out to the senior and to local authorities to offer our full support and assistance in any action that may be needed," Earle said.
The Department for the Aging handles about 3,000 cases a year. Only about 20 percent of the cases involve financial fraud, and the department does not specifically track elderly victims of deed fraud.
Mallon said she’s making plans to remove her aunt from the nursing home, and move in to take care of her.
"The woman is almost 90 and she’s been terrorized," Mallon said. "I’m filled with wrath and I want justice done for what has happened to this sweet, sweet woman."