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Heart-broken Woman Still Fighting For Her Home

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Almost a year after it looked like her sham marriage would be annulled and the house she had grown up in would be returned to her, a Throggs Neck woman is still not home.

Geraldine Panittieri, the homeowner of 1055 Edison Avenue who suffered a breakdown after her long-time boyfriend Christopher Nugget passed away, was victimized by Joseph Lillard, a man she had befriended who promised to take care of her and her house.

Instead, Lillard allegedly stole the house from Panittieri by forging a deed and kicking her out of the house that she had lived in for more than 50 years, advocates for her said.

She is now currently living unhappily in a mental institution, growing deeply depressed fearing she may never return home. Her court-appointed guardian has yet to get back her home or evict Lilliard, friend Cathy Ziegler said.

Ziegler one of the people who helped Panittieri obtain free legal counsel after she wandered into the Law Office of Stephen Kaufman just blocks from her home in the spring of 2009.

Integral Guardianship Company of Brooklyn, who was appointed guardian after no one suitable had been found, has yet to take action, even after Bronx Supreme Court Judge Wilma Guzman ordered the house returned to Panittieri in October 2010.

“Geraldine wants to come back to her house to live, and we want her to have someone who can pay regular visits to her home to make sure she is on her medicine, so she can live as independently as possible,” Ziegler said. “My main concern is that we do not want to see her stuck in the system.”

Her friends are deeply concerned that she will remain trapped in institutions, and eventually her home will be sold to pay for associated costs, or fall into disrepair and neglect at Lillard’s hands, Ziegler stated.

Since Integral Guardianship Company has yet to press charges or seek damages, Lillard continues to live in the house with his son, despite the fact that neighbors, who do not wish to be identified, said that Con Edison has turned off heat and electric to the house.

“As far as we can tell, Lillard owes back taxes that Geraldine would have to pay, and she could sue him for unlawful residence since he had lived in the house rent-free for almost two years,” Ziegler said. “We now have a petition circulating calling on authorities to get her back her home.”

Longtime friend Wayne Baker, owner of Frank Bees on 3439 E. Tremont Avenue, said he would be willing to help in whatever way he could to get her back home.

So far, about 125 signatures have been collected. The petition is available at Kaufman’s law office, 2916 Bruckner Boulevard

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