BRONX, NEW YORK, July 19- Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced the conviction of Cecilia Casabuena, 53, on multiple counts of grand larceny for stealing more than $20,000 from families seeking apartments to rent. Some of the victims were recipients of assistance through the New York City Housing Authority’s Section 8 Rental Voucher Program.
Casabuena, of Broadway, Manhattan, pled guilty to seven counts of grand larceny in the third degree, four counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and one count of petit larceny covering the 12 victims named in the indictment.
The plea was entered before State Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus who set sentencing for Thursday, August 16, 2012 in Part 78. Under the plea agreement Casabuena is to be sentenced to a term of three to nine years in state prison. The agreement also provides for the filing of a civil judgment requiring Casabuena to pay approximately $183,000 in restitution to the twelve victims named in the indictment and 40 other victims who were not included.
Casabuena misrepresented herself as a licensed real estate broker or agent for several Bronx based realty companies and would attract clients either as a result of ads placed in the Spanish language newspaper El Diario or through personal referrals. She promised to obtain apartments for them and collected security deposits and fees upfront, which averaged a little over $2000 per client.
The investigation which led to the guilty plea began when people who had paid Casabuena the upfront deposits and fees began coming forward to complain that they never received leases or keys to the apartments. Victims of the scam told investigators that they had made numerous requests to Casabuena to return the money but that she refused to do so.