House thief gets sent to the big house

Posted: May 23, 2014

IT APPEARED that Dwayne Stewart didn't care whom he ripped off - whether they were longtime homeowners or folks looking to rent apartments.

But rip them off he did, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, which last year charged Stewart, 44, with "stealing" five properties, theft from at least 12 additional victims in fraudulent real-estate scams and passing bad checks - including to the city's Recorder of Deeds Office.

Yesterday, Common Pleas Judge Carolyn Nichols sentenced the house thief to 2 1/2 to five years in state prison followed by 10 years' probation.

He was ordered to pay more than $86,000 in restitution to his victims.

Stewart, who pleaded guilty, managed to steal the West Philadelphia houses using forged deeds, a police investigation uncovered.

He stole five homes from elderly victims, then tried to sell the stolen homes to unsuspecting buyers, the probe found.

He also defrauded apartment seekers and apartment owners by unlawfully renting out apartments, accepting deposits and payments for apartments that he did not own or have any relationship to.

Stewart, a registered sex offender, was already in jail when he was arrested in April 2013. He was locked up for failing to report his address to police, a provision under the state's Megan's Law.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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