DALLAS — Fifteen months ago, retired schoolteacher Arnold Young left his family a small real estate empire valued at more than a million dollars -- or so his family thought.
But within weeks of Young’s death at 82, his family found that deeds transferring ownership of nine of Young’s houses had been filed with the Dallas County Clerk’s office. The deeds transferring title had allegedly been signed by Young.
Eight houses were transferred into the name of a nonprofit. The ninth house was transferred into the name of a tenant.
Young’s niece, Audrey Hogg, alleged his signature was forged. Police and a handwriting expert hired by the family agreed, and now so does a Dallas County grand jury.
A Dallas County grand jury has indicted the founders of the nonprofit--Belinda Tucker and her husband, Anthony Tucker--on a felony theft charge accusing them of engaging in a “scheme” to steal the nine houses.
Belinda Tucker has also been indicted on a theft charge, accusing her of fraudulently selling one of the houses to an unsuspecting buyer.
“We were never able to grieve for him because we got to fight this battle,” Hogg told WFAA.
The Tuckers didn’t respond to a request for comment about the indictments. But last fall, Belinda Tucker provided WFAA a six-page statement.
“It must be explicitly understood that there is no deed fraud in my case,” the statement said.
Tucker has alleged she was the victim of a conspiracy involving Young’s family, the police and city officials.
Belinda Tucker told WFAA Young transferred eight of the nine properties to her nonprofit, Mutual Freedom.
“It was hard to say no to someone who was being so generous to me,” the statement said.
Since 2019, WFAA has detailed how easy it is to forge signatures on property deeds – even the signatures of dead people. Once those deeds are filed with the county clerk, scammers can take control of properties they don’t own.
In the Tucker case, the deeds were dated July 8, 2020 – seven months before Arnold Young’s death, but not filed in the county clerk’s office until after his death.
Belinda Tucker was the notary on all nine deeds.
Young’s family and their attorney, Alisha Melvin, have questioned how Belinda Tucker could notarize deeds giving control of the properties to herself.
According to the Texas Secretary of State’s rules for notaries, a notary is a “third party who has no personal interest in the transaction.”
Police have told WFAA that Belinda Tucker failed to provide any evidence – no phone records, no emails, nor text messages – to help substantiate that she knew Arnold Young.
Hogg says the legal battle over the houses has cost the estate more than $100,000. Those expenses included paying more than $30,000 to a local attorney the judge appointed to oversee the estate for a period of time.
The Tuckers filed a contest to Young’s 2014 will.
His 2014 will meticulously listed the relatives who would inherit his properties.
The Tuckers claimed in court filings that Young had created another will, but Melvin said that alleged document was never produced.
In January, the probate judge threw out the Tuckers’ challenge of the will and concluded that the 2014 will was the “valid Will.” The judge also appointed Hogg as executor of his estate as Young had directed be done in his will.
In a court filing, the family is now asking the courts to set aside the “fraudulent” deeds filed by Tucker and her nonprofit, and return the houses to Young’s estate.
“That's going to be a process because now I am sure the Tucker's are going to plead the fifth,” Melvin told WFAA.
"I'm just so happy that we finally have the indictments," Melvin added. "It's a long time coming."
For Hogg, her happiness at the indictments is now tempered by another loss. Her mother unexpectedly passed away over the weekend.
Her mother, Ezell Hogg, was Young’s younger sister.
“It just weighed down so heavily on her,” Hogg said of the battle over the houses.
Hogg said she believed her mother died of a broken heart.
Ezell Hogg was to have inherited four of the nine houses. Her family said she died without receiving her rightful inheritance and they blame the Tuckers.
“She just could never get over why were these people so evil?” Hogg said. “Why would they do something like that?”