Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

Brooksville man accused of selling real estate without a license

BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville man accused of trying to sell foreclosed properties he never legally owned to unsuspecting buyers is in jail again, this time on a charge of selling real estate without a license, authorities said.

Gaetano Antonelli, 62, was arrested Thursday after a detective, following up on a tip, witnessed Antonelli showing a home on Fairlawn Street in Spring Hill, the Hernando Sheriff's Office said in media release. During a traffic stop immediately afterward, Antonelli admitted he was there to show the property.

His real estate sales license expired in 1999, investigators said.

The woman who owned the home said she contacted Antonelli after seeing his "we buy homes" ad in a coupon booklet. She signed a contract with Antonelli to work for a profit, the Sheriff's Office said.

This is Antonelli's third arrest since June. He already faces six counts of organized fraud and was out on bail at the time of his arrest Thursday.

Investigators say Antonelli targeted homeowners facing foreclosure, telling them he could relieve them of their mortgages by suing their mortgage company. Antonelli told them they could walk away and maybe even get money back if they signed their deeds over to him by a power of attorney agreement, detectives say. Then he would list the houses for sale on Craigslist without the knowledge of the homeowners.

But Antonelli's scheme was based on a false premise, detectives say: Once the foreclosure process begins, as it had in these cases, the owner has no legal right to sign over the deed to him.

He remained in the Hernando County jail without bail Thursday. His vehicle and cash are being seized by the Sheriff's Office.

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