ROCKAWAY PARK — The woman accused of scamming more than $1 million from a woman by forging power of attorney documents after she was dead will return to court in June, as her lawyer maintains his client had no idea the victim was dead.
Donna Rea, 53, showed up for a hearing in Queens Criminal Court on Monday following her arraignment last month as part of an elaborate scheme to steal multiple properties from Karen "KC" Connors years after she died, according to the DA.
The district attorney's office said Rea forged a power of attorney document and deed transfers in order to take over two homes in Rockaway Park, renting one and then selling it last fall.
She also received $60,000 in Build It Back funds to repair one of the homes, and also illegally sold two of Connors' condos in Miami Beach, the DA said.
Connors, who died in November 2011, did not have any immediate heirs. It's protocol for the medical examiner's office to notify the public administrator's office after someone with property and no heirs has died, but it's unclear how or why the office didn't know about her death until the alleged fraud was discovered.
Rea faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. She pleaded not guilty last month, and declined to comment outside court on Monday.
Her lawyer, Joe Mure, said that Rea and Connors were friends — and said again on Monday that his client didn't know she was dead.
"She had no idea this woman was dead," he said, but declined to comment further when asked where Rea thought Connors was after dying of a heart attack in 2011.
Friends of Connors said Rea lied to them and claimed she was taking care of Connors at a nursing home in Florida. Two friends even went as far as to hire a private investigator to track her down. They couldn't find her — and said they found closure after Rea was arrested.
Connors' two homes on Beach 120th Street in Rockaway Park will be auctioned off by the public administrator's office on Wednesday.
Her body, which was buried on the city's Potter's Field six months in May 2012, will be exhumed and buried at a Catholic cemetery on Long Island this spring, officials said.