Using loopholes in New York's real estate law (that allowed a reporter to transfer ownership of the Empire State building to himself citing Fay Wray as a witness and bank robber Willie Sutton as notary), a haredi man, Rabbi Benjamin Herbst, has apparently tried to steal several properties. One of them is a midtown Manhattan office building. Another is the home of an elderly retiree.
The New York Observer has a piece on Benjamin Herbst. Here's a very brief excerpt:
…In 2005, a man named Enrico Mancini died in Brooklyn. He was 98 years old and had been ill for quite some time. He had outlived his wife as well as his only child. Mr. Mancini had come to Borough Park from Italy in the 1950s. There is a decades-old picture of him in court documents, standing in front of his house, 5017 17th Avenue—the one that is now in ruins. He had his arm around Mrs. Mancini in the picture: Proud immigrants who had found a foothold in the land of opportunity.
When Mr. Mancini died, the house and the rest of his estate passed into the control of one of his only remaining relatives, his daughter-in-law, Serafina Mancini, who, at the time, was in her 70s. Thinking 5017 17th Avenue seemed like an ideal place to spend her golden years, she made plans to move in. But when she arrived, she received a rude welcome from Mr.
Herbst, who announced that she was trespassing. To her shock, construction work had begun on the home. Mr. Herbst was in the midst of a full-blown project to integrate 5017 17th Avenue with his palatial house next door, 5019-5021 17th Avenue. It was as if one house were reaching out and grabbing its neighbor, the beams encircling the adjacent residence like tentacles.…
Mr. Herbst gestured at the surrounding neighborhood, where many of the homes appear to fall on the far side of what is probably permitted by code.
“Are you kidding?” he said. “No Jew-boy in Borough Park ever builds legal.”
In October 2011, Herbst's alleged attempt to seal a midtown office building made real estate news in Manhattan, as did his alleged attempts to steal other properties.