- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Billerica Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Jail in Forged Deed Scheme
Thomas Dalton, Deputy Press Secretary
WOBURN — A North Billerica man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced after forging a property deed for his father’s home and lying under oath in Land Court, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Thomas R. Cerretani, 66, of Billerica pleaded guilty Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court to the charges of Forgery of Deed, Uttering a Forged Deed, Willfully Misleading a Judge and Perjury. Charles P. Antonelli, Jr., 75, of Lowell pleaded guilty last month to the charges of Willfully Misleading a Judge and Perjury.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Patrick Haggan sentenced Cerretani 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. Antonelli 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.
Cerretani lived in his father’s North Billerica home, and after his father’s death in 2014, he attended a meeting with his brother, sister, and sister’s husband, where Cerretani saw his father’s will for the first time. The will left all of his father’s property, including the North Billerica home, in equal shares to all four of them. The AG’s office contends that Cerretani had expected to inherit the property on more favorable terms. To rectify that perceived wrong, in or about July 2015, Cerretani created and backdated a forged deed, which he claimed his father signed shortly before his death and which would have given Cerretani sole ownership of his father’s home had it been legitimate. Cerretani presented the deed to Antonelli, his friend and a notary public, who agreed to participate in the scheme. Antonelli notarized the deed, attesting to the deceased father’s signature on the forged deed, even though he never witnessed the signing.
Cerretani’s sister, acting as representative of the estate of their father, filed a complaint in the Land Court in June 2016 to challenge the validity of the forged deed her brother had filed with the Registry of Deeds after their father’s death. In July 2016, Cerretani purchased a notary public record book and, alongside Antonelli, created a false record supporting the forged deed. Both Cerretani and Antonelli then gave repeated false testimony under oath before the Land Court, repeatedly insisting that the forged deed was authentic.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sheehan of the AG’s White Collar & Public Integrity Division, and investigated by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office with assistance from the AG’s Financial Investigations Division.