A woman meets an elderly man, moves in with him, and inherits his rent-controlled New York apartment -- except 62-year-old Pamela Becker was not 85-year-old Nicholas DeTommaso's wife or lover. Just weeks before DeTommaso died, he adopted Becker -- as his daughter.
According to the New York Post, DeTommaso (pictured with Becker, left) had lived at the two-bedroom, railroad-flat apartment on 47th Road in Queens his entire life, and paid only $100 a month to live there. One of his neighbors had hired Becker as a cat-sitter, and soon after, Becker befriended the old man.
Neighbors reported that the 62-year-old former yoga instructor would take the old man shopping, and was even gifted with a "series of cars" bought for her by DeTommaso. In 2002, she officially moved in with him (in the building pictured above).
In 2007, after DeTomasso was diagnosed with dementia, Becker received his power of attorney. But although she had the power to make all financial and legal decisions for DeTommaso -- and even was the beneficiary of his life insurance and pension -- Becker refused to marry him.
"Some people said I should marry him. I didn't want to marry him, that's gross. I don't do stuff like that," Becker told the Post. Instead, the 62-year-old was formally adopted by him as his daughter -- just weeks before his death in June 2009.
Since then, Becker has continued to live in the apartment despite various attempts from the building's owners, Sugrim and Kowsila Outar, to evict her. But her luck might soon run out: The state Division of Housing and Community Renewal recently ruled that Becker (who changed her name to Maria DeTommaso) was not entitled to the apartment because she lived there only 22 days before her adoptive father's death.
But Becker is adamant about staying put. "I'm legally adopted," Becker told the New York Post. "I'm going to win this battle."
While going through an adoption to secure a rent-controlled apartment, as Becker has been accused of doing, might seem extreme, compare that to reports out of China that say thousands of "happily married" couples have rushed to get divorced in order to dodge exorbitant taxes on the sale of their second homes.
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