2006_12_sohogrand.jpgThis is a case of a criminal thinking big - grand, in fact. Staten Island resident Kouadio Kouassi was arrested for trying to stealing ownership of the $76 million Soho Grand. How did Kouassi go about claiming his stake in the hotel? By repeatedly filing paperwork with the Department of Finance to transfer ownership to himself. Seriously, he thought it would be as easy as that! The Post reports he filed a "phony business certificate...to establish an interest in the hotel" and then went to the Finance Department "to record the phony ownership deed." But the finance employee was suspicious, since the documents weren't professionally filled out and since most transactions like this are dealt with by lawyers. All of this unbeknownst to the hotel's actual owners, the Hartz Mountain group.

The Department of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, "It was just not the kind of filing you would see if it was a real commercial transaction... It was just a very brazen, foolish game he was playing....We don't really know what he was thinking." Kouassi is facing grand larceny charges and could be in jail for 15 years if found guilty.