Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This week a North Billerica man was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to forging a deed to his deceased father’s home.

According to the Attorney General’s pleadings, Thomas Cerretani became upset after reading the terms of his father’s will in 2015.  The will split the father’s estate into four equal shares.  The shares went to Thomas, his two siblings, and his bother-in-law Jules.

Tom became angry when he learned the estate was being split four ways instead of three.  He demanded that Jules be removed from the will.  Jules refused, so Tom took matters into his own hands.

Attorney General’s Statement of the Case, Docket #3, 2181CR00319.

To rectify the perceived wrong, Thomas created a deed purporting to transfer the father’s house in North Billerica to him alone.  He back-dated the document to predate his father’s death and then forged the decedent’s signature.

After fabricating the deed, Thomas convinced his friend and notary public, Charles Antonelli, Jr., to notarize the signature.

The deed was then recorded at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds.

Eventually, the deed was discovered by Thomas’s sister who was also the personal representative of the father’s estate.  She filed a civil lawsuit in Land Court.

During the trial, both Thomas and his notary public insisted that the deed was authentic.  In addition to the bogus deed and false testimony, Thomas and Charles presented a notary records book which was purchased on the eve of an initial motion hearing in Land Court.  According to the AG,

Tom and Mr. Antonelli used the [records book] to create an initial entry that mirrored information in the forged deed.  In other words, the first entry in the [records book] was made to appear as if it had been filled-out contemporaneously with the deed.

Id.

After a two-day bench trial in Land Court, the deed was deemed forged and thus nullified. 

Shortly thereafter criminal charges were brought against Thomas and Charles in Middlesex Superior Court.

Thomas was charged with forgery (M.G.L. c. 267, § 1), perjury (M.G.L. c. 268, §1), and misleading a judge during trial (M.G.L. c. 268, § 13(b)).

Charles was likewise charged with perjury and misleading a judge during trial.

The AG’s office reported yesterday that Thomas was sentenced

to two and a half years in the House of Correction, with six months to be served and the balance suspended for three years, with conditions that include an order to have no contact with the victims, and to pay restitution to them in an amount to be determined at a later hearing.

Additionally,

[Charles] was sentenced last month to serve three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to the victims in an amount to be determined at a hearing in January 2023.