Laura Gayle’s suspicion rose as she sat across from Russell Carbone at a local Starbucks. His oversized, crumpled suit and pushy demeanor set off alarm bells in her mind. When he produced an envelope stuffed with $5,000 in cash and dangled a $15,000 check for immediate paperwork signing, she knew something was amiss.
Carbone’s ill-fitting attire seemed to confirm her unease. “When a lawyer walks in with a bad suit, you know you’re going to jail,” Gayle recalled. The suit, wrinkled and clearly unsuited to its wearer, signaled trouble. Her gut instinct, always attuned to warning signs, told her this meeting wouldn’t end well.
Despite Carbone’s persuasive spiel promising solutions to their financial woes regarding her late father’s foreclosed home in South Jamaica, Gayle trusted her instincts. She swiftly sought counsel, reaching out to a real estate lawyer after sending photos of the documents Carbone had presented.
The lawyer’s advice was unequivocal: “It’s a scam.” The papers Carbone offered would grant Terrell Hill power of attorney over their property, a move designed to wrest control from Gayle and her siblings.
Swiftly taking action, Gayle reported the incident, setting off an investigation that unearthed multiple victims ensnared in a similar trap. Carbone, a disbarred lawyer at 69, and Hill, a landscaper aged 40, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and offering falsified documents on November 30. Their company, RC Couture Realty, faced penalties, with a $100,000 fine imposed, alongside a restitution order of $56,960 from Carbone for collected rents on the stolen properties.
Hill faces an impending three-year prison sentence, set for January 20, marking the climax of a legal battle sparked by Gayle’s swift action and intuition. Her quick thinking and refusal to be duped not only saved her family’s property but also unveiled a network of deceit affecting multiple unsuspecting individuals.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz detailed the elaborate scheme orchestrated by Terrell Hill, a landscaper, and Russell Carbone, revealing their methodical approach to defrauding homeowners. Hill, leveraging his landscaping work, gathered intel on seemingly unoccupied houses, passing the information to Carbone. The duo then probed into deceased homeowners and whether their successors had assumed ownership.