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The Justice Wire

DA Krasner Announces Charges Against Five Individuals After Major Deed Fraud Investigation

CONTACT:
Dustin Slaughter, 215–686–8713, Dustin.Slaughter@phila.gov

PHILADELPHIA (Mar. 22, 2021) — District Attorney Larry Krasner today announced charges against five individuals for their roles in the illegal deed transfer of numerous properties in North and West Philadelphia. The victims of these house thefts are current owners as well as deceased.

In 2019, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) received a complaint about an apparent illegal deed transfer. A joint investigation with the Philadelphia Police Department Major Crimes Unit was then launched. Investigators later discovered that Demeshia Harris-Bey, in her role as a notary public, was actively conspiring with her husband, Richard Eugene Harris-Bey, as well as the other defendants, to fraudulently transfer house deeds to R&DHB Islamic Community, Inc., an organization owned by Mr. Harris-Bey. 11 homes in total were stolen.

The defendants now awaiting trial face the following charges:

  • Demeshia Harris-Bey (AKA Judon),42, is charged with 11 counts of Conspiracy (F3), nine counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3), nine counts of Theft by Deception (F3), 11 counts of Forgery (F3), eight counts of Tampering with Records or Identification (F3), eight counts of Tampering with Records (F3), and eight counts of Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2);
  • Richard Eugene Harris-Bey, 59, is charged with eight counts of Conspiracy (F3), six counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3), six counts of Theft by Deception (F3), eight counts of Forgery (F3), six counts of Tampering with Records or Identification (F3), six counts of Tampering with Records (F3), and six counts of Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2);
  • Robert Foster, 54, is charged with two counts of Conspiracy (F3), one count of Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3), one count of Theft by Deception (F3), two counts of Forgery (F3), one count of Tampering with Records or Identification (F3), one count of Tampering with Records (F3), and one count of Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2);
  • Damon Omar Urquhart, 41, is charged with two counts of Conspiracy (F3), two counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3), two counts of Theft by Deception (F3), one count of Forgery (F3), two counts of Tampering with Records or Identification (F3), two counts of Tampering with Records (F3), and one count of Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2);
  • Lance Felder, 42, is charged with four counts of Conspiracy (F3), four counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3), four counts of Theft by Deception (F3), three counts of Forgery (F3), four counts of Tampering with Records or Identification (F3), four counts of Tampering with Records (F3), and three counts of Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2).

“Deed fraud and house theft are particularly insidious crimes because they not only impact the home’s real owner and often their family, but also sap generational wealth from them as well as their communities, driving poverty and desperation,” said DA Krasner. “I’m grateful to Economic Crimes Unit Supervisor Dawn Holtz, ECU Assistant Supervisor Kimberly Esack, the prosecutor who led this investigation for our office, as well as the detectives who have all diligently pursued justice for these victims and the community.”

“We cannot achieve justice without invaluable tips from the public,” said Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Esack. “While we enjoy excellent and ongoing collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department in these matters, I’m also heartened by increased communication and partnership between our office and other stakeholders, such as Commissioner Jim Leonard from the city’s Department of Records, among others. But at the end of the day, our greatest partnership rests with the community. If you suspect fraudulent activity, I urge you to contact our Economic Crimes Unit. We’re here for you.”

To report deed fraud or other types of economic crime, including scams against elders, crimes against workers, home improvement schemes, and insurance fraud, contact the DAO’s ECU: 215–686–9902 or FraudComplaint@phila.gov.

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually.

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