Philadelphia—District Attorney Seth Williams announces today the conviction of Carlos Quiles, Troy Baylor and Richard Smith. A jury found all three men guilty of corrupt organizations, conspiracy to commit theft, and 317 additional counts. Those additional counts include theft by deception, forgery, and tampering with public records.
All three were part of a corrupt organization that stole over 80 homes in the City of Philadelphia and hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting buyers from June of 2004 through May 2008. These men along with other members of the ring, created deeds that claimed to transfer ownership of a house to either members of their ring, a duped buyer or to a “straw person” who either didn’t exist or was unaware of their involvement in the transfer. The fraudulent deeds contained forged signatures of the rightful owners. Once the forged signatures were notarized (often by co-defendants), the deeds were recorded at the Department of Records in City Hall.
In each instance of the more than 80 house thefts, the true original owners knew nothing about the “sale,” and did not give anyone permission to sell their home. Most of the stolen homes were vacant or otherwise uninhabited. In many instances, the owner of the house had been dead for many years and could not have appeared before a Notary Public to sign the deed.
After stealing the homes the defendants then stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting buyers. These victims spent tens of thousands of dollars fixing up their new homes only to find out later that they did not legally or legitimately own the homes and the deeds they received from the defendants had been forged. Several of these buyers subsequently lost the homes once the rightful owners learned of the fraud and filed civil actions to get their houses back.
Richard Smith and Troy Baylor were business partners. They did everything from selling real estate, to managing rental properties and assisting with construction and renovations. Baylor, a community activist and member of Police Clergy, claimed he worked for the City of Philadelphia. Some of his victims thought he was a reverend, similar to co-defendant Reverend Kenneth Lyons. Baylor told many buyers that, because of his job and political connections, he could get a list of properties which the City owned and was willing to sell cheap. Richard Smith fled after jury selection was completed five weeks ago.
Carlos Quiles, the CEO of a non–profit organization called Neighborhood Preservation, worked with Smith and Baylor out of his Kensington office. Many victims thought that Quiles was a lawyer and went to him for assistance. Instead of legal assistance, he provided them illegal assistance, creating and notarizing forged deeds, and acting as real estate agent and providing receipts for the purchase of stolen homes.
“The actions of these men are indefensible,” says District Attorney Seth Williams. “During these tough economic times when hard working families are struggling to pay their bills every month, the defendants preyed on victims who just wanted to achieve a part of the American dream of owning their own homes. I am extremely proud of the hard work of ADA Christine Gordon and the Economic Crime Unit. Dishonest and corrupt individuals will be punished for their crimes and justice has been provided to their victims.”