SALEM — A lawyer from Salem is facing charges that he forged and backdated, then filed a deed transferring a home owned by his late father to himself shortly after the father's death.
A lawyer for Michael Brophy says his client "adamantly denies" the allegations, calling them the product of a "vindictive" soon-to-be ex-wife.
Brophy's lawyer, John Morris, also questioned why his client is facing felony charges while another local attorney, accused by the Board of Bar Overseers of filing multiple forged documents to acquire and then sell a multifamily home in Salem, is not.
"He benefited," said Morris, referring to local attorney Stephen P. Lovely, who is facing disciplinary action by the Board of Bar Overseers related to his handling of a Jefferson Avenue property, but not criminal charges. "My guy's not benefiting in any way. I don't understand the difference."
A hearing on Lovely's bar discipline case is currently scheduled for July.
Brophy, 41, of 9 Vale St., Salem, is due in court on Monday to answer to charges of forgery, forgery of a public record and passing a forged instrument.
The alleged scheme came to light last May when Brophy's estranged wife, Theresa Brophy, 55, of Hull, contacted the Registry of Deeds in Salem and told First Assistant Register Deborah Gilmore that she had falsely notarized a deed transferring her late father-in-law's home, at 12 Stearns Place in Salem, to Michael Brophy.
The couple are in the midst of divorce proceedings in Plymouth County, according to records there.
The allegedly forged deed was filed on Sept. 1, 2017, just days after the death of Paul Brophy, 71, on Aug. 29, 2017. It was dated July 12, 2017.
Theresa Brophy appeared in Salem District Court on Tuesday, where she admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of violating the notary public law by notarizing the documents without both parties being present.
She has agreed to surrender her commission as a notary public and will spend six months on probation under a plea agreement that will see the charges continued without a finding for six months and dismissed if she stays out of further trouble.
According to a report by a state police detective sergeant with the District Attorney's office, Theresa Brophy told investigators that her estranged husband had forged both the deed and a will, which was never filed in probate court.
At the time of the filing, there were two mortgages on the Stearns Place home. Both lenders — Eastern Bank and Ditech Financial — have since filed suit to foreclose the property, court records show.
In an interview with Gilmore, Michael Brophy told her that he had drafted the deed at his dying father's request and that his father signed it on July 12 over a meal at the 99 Restaurant in Lynnfield. He said his wife notarized it several weeks later.
Under Massachusetts law, a notarized signature must be witnessed in person by the notary.
Morris said his client would have been the rightful heir to the property anyway, and had nothing to gain from such a scheme given that there were already liens on the property.
The district attorney's office is also prosecuting a Hamilton man, John Donovan Sr., 77, who is charged with forging numerous documents in a thwarted effort to steal the proceeds from the sale of more than 300 acres of conservation land controlled by the estate of his late son.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.