Conviction for Stealing a House
Barbara Jean Harris, 40, was found guilty as charged of Second Degree Grand Theft, Unlawful Filing of False Document Against Real or Personal Property, Uttering a Forged Instrument, and Burglary of a Dwelling following a 2 day trial in Lee County. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning their verdict.
In June 2016 Harris called the Fort Myers Police Department to a home she claimed to have purchased. She told them the locks had been changed and there was furniture in the previously vacant home. She gave the officers documents that showed she owned the property and when they checked the property appraiser’s website it also showed her as the owner.
Harris had a person who was with her pick the lock and had the officers check the property for squatters. Once inside the home the alarm went off and Harris claimed to have forgotten her alarm code. Shortly thereafter the true owner of the home, the victim, showed up and turned off the alarm. The homeowner told police she has owned the house since 1999 and never sold the property to Harris.
Harris had filed a fraudulent deed to the house even using herself as the notary on the deed and had a bogus witness to the document. When signing the deed as a notary she used a previous married name to make it appear as if it were a different person than who the property was deeded to.
Harris faces up to 40 years in prison at her sentencing on March 5th. Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Royal of our Economic Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.
State Attorney’s Office