Update: Our most recent Schmuck of the Week has been busted -- and while she's currently free on bond, she could wind up behind bars again soon. Marquise Bridgewater is accused of using false deeds to "buy" a $400,000 house for $10. 9News is now reporting that Bridgewater surrendered to Broomfield police on the warrant in her name out of Denver last week and subsequently bonded out -- and the next day, she allegedly filed another false document signing over possession of the house-she-didn't-own to a woman in California. That could mean more charges and another arrest warrant.
As for the first one, here's how she earned it, as described in our previous Schmuck of the Week nomination.
Original post 9:50 a.m. July 18: Ten dollars for a $400,000 house? Sounds like the deal of the century -- or one of the bolder fraud attempts in recent memory.
The Denver District Attorney's Office backs the latter description. Prosecutors there have now charged 24-year-old Schmuck of the Week nominee Marquise Bridgewater with perpetrating an elaborate scam, which turned on documents supposedly signed by a woman nearly two weeks after she died.
Images of Bridgewater she shared on Photobucket suggests that she's extremely fond of the same severe expression, as seen in this shot....
...and this one:
Did this don't-mess-with-me gaze help her almost pull off an epic scam? Maybe -- but as detailed in an arrest affidavit on view below and a story enterprised by 9News, the gambit was too good to last.
The police report says the plan began to unravel after Assistant City Attorney Katherine Wilmoth was contacted by a city inspector in regard to questions about a property located at 4601 29th Avenue. Records showed it belonged to Bank of America following a 2012 foreclosure, and this past January, steps were taken to put it on the market. But in April, the inspector found a young woman -- Bridgewater -- apparently living there. She said she was renting the residence but couldn't provide the name of the landlord.
Shortly thereafter, the inspector discovered that three deeds had been filed on the property since the bank took it over. The documents indicated that a Kateri A. Traversie had obtained the house from the bank, then turned it over to a Joshinna Carreras, who subsequently sold it to Bridgewater for $10 -- quite a bargain given that its estimated value is in the $400,000 range.
What facts hinted that the deeds were fraudulent? Well, for one thing, Traversie's actual signature looked nothing like the one on the document. For another, the arrest warrant says she "died two weeks prior to the deed being filed with the Clerk and Recorders Office" -- a fact that disgusts her mom, Laurie Railback.
"For somebody to feel entitled to come in and just take her name and mess with anything that had to do with my daughter.... I was outraged," Railsback told 9News. "Somebody has taken over her life and her identity."
One more thing: Video exists of the documents being signed -- and the arrest affidavit says the person wielding the pen was Bridgewater.
When a 9News reporter stopped by the house earlier this month, Bridgewater was at home -- although she claimed her name was Jessica and she was housesitting for her sister. But she vanished shortly thereafter, and a Denver District Attorney's Office representative tells us she's still at large as of this writing.
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When she turns up, she'll be facing six accusations outlined in the charging document below: three for forgery and another trio related to "offering a false instrument for recording."
As a Schmuck of the Week, though, she hasn't struck a false note. Here are the arrest report and charging documents.