Man gets prison for stealing home deed without signing loan

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BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man was sentenced to prison for trying to steal a new $219,000 home by snatching and filing a signed deed without signing loan documents.

Stanley Livingston, 45, was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence last month in Polk County court, the Ledger reported. A jury convicted him in September of grand theft and filing a false document against real property. Livingston, who represented himself, had faced up to 30 years in prison.

In his closing argument at trial, Livingston said he had no intention of stealing the home. He said he believed that the seller, Starlight Homes Florida, already had been paid.

Livingston had contracted to buy a new house in a Haines City subdivision, trial witnesses testified. During a May 2018 meeting to close the sale, he had asked to delay signing the mortgage documents until the end of the meeting. His signature would have committed him to repaying the home loan. At some point, Livingston grabbed the deed, which Starlight Homes officials already had signed, and ran to his truck. A closing agent testified that she ran after Livingston but he quickly drove away.

The deed was filed with the Polk County Clerk of Courts two days after the meeting, according to testimony. He told workers he had paid $1 for the house and property, where he was now living, officials said. Later that day, he went to the subdivision sales office to tell the developer that he now owned the house and to leave him alone. They called police, and Livingston was arrested.

The trial judge voided the deed almost immediately after Livingston's conviction, returning the home to Starlight Homes Florida.

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