Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hotel thief

You've likely heard of grand theft auto, but how about grand theft hotel? A Brooklyn man was arrested Friday after trying to steal New York City's SoHo Grand Hotel by filing a fraudulent deed to transfer ownership of the $76 million establishment to himself.

Kouadio Kouassi, 46, was charged with attempted grand larceny and two counts of offering a false instrument for filing.

Kouassi allegedly filed a phony business certificate with the New York County Clerk’s Office in an effort to establish a bogus business interest in the hotel. Authorities say he went to the Department of Finance to record a phony deed which transferred ownership of the property to himself.

His paperwork, however, was not accepted because he did not have all of the necessary signatures and documents.

Still, the hopeful hotel thief was persistent in his efforts to have the deed recorded, and returned to the department at least four other times to try and have the deed recorded again. During one of those visits, a department employee became suspicious of Kouassi and notified authorities.

“This defendant foolishly thought he had engineered a clever and brash ruse to gain ownership of a significant commercial property. He may now find himself sleeping in less glamorous accommodations. I would like to commend the DOF employee who reported this matter to DOI," Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said in a statement.

The SoHo Grand Hotel’s true owners, the Hartz Group, told investigators they did not know Kouassi, nor did they ever sell or agree to sell the hotel to him.

If convicted, Kouassi faces up to 15 years in prison.

No comments: