A judge on Thursday sentenced a West Philadelphia man to 2½ to 5 years in state prison for using forged deeds to steal homes.

Dwayne Stewart, 44, was also ordered to pay over $86,000 in restitution and serve 10 years of probation after his release from jail.

Stewart was charged last year with stealing five Philadelphia properties from an elderly victim by creating and recording fraudulent deeds. He then sold or tried to sell some of the stolen homes to unsuspecting buyers.

Stewart unlawfully rented out some of the properties as apartments, accepting deposits and payments for units despite the fact that he didn't actually own them. In several cases, prosecutors said, Stewart left tenants stranded with no home.

Stewart also used real estate scams to steal from at least 12 additional victims and passed bad checks to the city Records Department, according to prosecutors.

After a long-term investigation overseen by the Philadelphia police Southwest Detectives Division, Stewart was arrested in April 2013 and charged with multiple counts of theft, forgery, receiving stolen property, tampering with public records or identification, and passing bad checks. He pleaded guilty in March to numerous offenses.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.
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