The New York Post by IKIMULISA LIVINGSTON, JOE MOLLICA and KATE SHEEHY - November 19, 2008
The well-connected brother of a popular Brooklyn judge - employed as the No. 2 in the borough's Civil Court Clerk's Office - helped steal an elderly widow's home out from under her, authorities said yesterday. Brooklyn Chief Deputy County Clerk John D'Emic, 59, represented the husband of the unsuspecting, 74-year-old woman at the closing on the $490,500 sale of the couple's home last year in Jamaica, Queens, officials said. The problem is, the husband, Eugene Thomas, had been dead since 1986 - and his widow, Dorothy, never put the Union Hall Street house up for sale in the first place. "They tried to take advantage of her because they thought she was alone . . . She never sold the house," her nephew, Robert Mitchell, told The Post last night. "She's a nervous wreck. She's asthmatic, she's diabetic, she's got heart trouble," Mitchell said of the aunt who helped raise him. "She's afraid to answer the door because people come knocking saying they own the house and threatening her."
The New York Daily News bY WIL CRUZ AND WILLIAM SHERMAN - November 19, 2008
The New York Law Journal by Mark Fass - November 20, 2008
The chief deputy county clerk for Brooklyn Supreme Court has been charged with facilitating a $1.4 million mortgage scam in which the conspirators allegedly used fake identification to sell houses they did not own. According to Queens prosecutors, John D'Emic represented either a fake buyer or a fake seller in each of three fraudulent transactions, receiving $1,800 in each case. Mr. D'Emic also allegedly prepared false letters regarding the disbursement of mortgage funds and illegally shared fees with a second, disbarred attorney. Mr. D'Emic, who was appointed chief deputy in January and earns $96,900 annually, was arraigned on Tuesday. He faces up to four years in prison. He was immediately suspended without pay by the Office of Court Administration. According to the Queen's District Attorney's Office, the investigation that led to the arrest of Mr. D'Emic and eight others began in November 2007, when 74-year-old Dorothy Thomas came to the office's Elder Fraud Unit to report that her home had been sold without her knowledge. Ms. Thomas learned of the sale after receiving mail and foreclosure notices addressed to "Tolessi Enyonam," the property's new purported owner. As laid out in the indictment, the defendants used fake I.D.s both to secure mortgages and pose as buyers in order to sell the three Jamaica-area homes to each other and split the proceeds. Mr. D'Emic, a Brooklyn-based solo practitioner at the time of the crimes, allegedly helped close the sales and falsify documents.
Mr. D'Emic was charged with 11 counts of falsifying business records and one charge of prohibited sharing of compensation by attorneys. Reached by phone yesterday, Mr. D'Emic's attorney, Samuel Gregory, said his client did not know that the underlying sales were fraudulent. Mr. D'Emic ranks among the crimes' victims, along with the banks, the homes' actual owners and two people whose identities were used to obtain the mortgages, Mr. Samuel said. "Knowledge and intent to defraud are necessary elements in all of the substantive counts with which Mr. D'Emic is charged," Mr. Gregory said. His client, he added, had neither. "Jack D'Emic has been practicing law for somewhere around 30 years," Mr. Gregory said. "He's got a reputation for honesty and truthfulness that goes back to the first day he began to practice." As chief deputy county clerk, Mr. D'Emic oversaw jury management, which included supervising personnel in the Division of Jurors and participated in the division's day-to-day management. Although county clerkships are administrative positions that do not require legal backgrounds, many clerks - including Mr. D'Emic and two of the four sitting chief clerks - have law degrees. Mr. D'Emic's eight co-defendants include Alan Morris, a former attorney who was disbarred in 1992 and served three years for grand larceny and possession of stolen property.
According to the present indictment, Mr. Morris worked for the Babylon law firm John Weber & Associates, and served as the bank's attorney on each mortgage, notwithstanding his disbarment. He also allegedly handled all the closings and prepared and submitted false documents, among other charges. Mr. Morris' attorney, Anthony Battisti of Queens, declined to comment. Mr. Weber declined to comment, other than to say that Mr. Morris worked in a secretarial or law-clerk capacity. A second co-defendant is Norman Barabash, a Long Island man already under indictment for allegedly running a "sex tourism" travel agency, Big Apple Tours, which was twice charged by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer with promoting prostitution by leading tours to Asian brothels. Mr. D'Emic is one of 10 siblings in a prominent Bay Ridge family. His brother Matthew D'Emic is an acting Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn's Criminal Part, overseeing both the mental health and domestic violence parts. Mark.Fass@incisivemedia.com