A 101-year-old Arroyo Hondo man has suggested that someone forged his signature on a warranty deed laying claim to 20,000 acres north of Taos, according to a transcript of a deposition by Manuel Ortiz Sr. acquired by The Taos News.
A warranty deed and other documents were filed with the Taos County Clerk’s Office on Oct. 20, 2010, purporting to pass ownership of the Arroyo Hondo Land Grant to the heirs of the grant’s original settlers and to its self-appointed board of trustees, according to The News.
The deed has since clouded title to all properties within the grant’s historic boundaries, preventing some property owners from selling or refinancing and prompting a still-pending lawsuit in federal court filed by three national title insurers, the paper reported.
Manuel Ortiz Sr. is listed in the warranty deed as the grantee, and his name is printed and signed on the document, but Ortiz, who is the father of several Hondo board members, told an Albuquerque attorney during the June 21 deposition that he did not sign the warranty deed, The News said.
“That’s not my firma (signature),” Ortiz told the attorney when asked if he recognized his name on the warranty deed, according to the transcript.
During the deposition, Ortiz told the attorney that he had been asked by his sons Leandro Ortiz and Lawrence Ortiz to sign a document stating that he was the oldest living heir of the Arroyo Hondo grant, but he said he had never seen the warranty deed before, The News said.
The deed was notarized by Felicia Ortiz, Leandro Ortiz’s wife, but Manuel Ortiz Sr. said in his deposition that Felicia Ortiz was not present when he signed the document saying he was the land grant’s oldest heir, the paper reported.
Neither Leandro nor Felicia Ortiz was reached for comment, according to The News.