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Notorious Landlord Steve Croman Sentenced to a Year in Rikers, Which ‘Ain’t Exactly the Ritz’

Steven Croman (Photo from the Office of the Attorney General)

Steve Croman has been sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay a $5 million fine– an almost unheard-of punishment for a Manhattan landlord.

The sentence was delivered earlier today after Croman, who owns property in the East Village and Lower East Side, pled guilty to multiple counts of mortgage and tax fraud related to his 140 buildings.

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Steve Croman is Rikers-Bound; Gin Ice Cream Flights

Yesterday landlord Steve Croman—whose 140 New York City buildings include several in the East Village and on the Lower East Side—plead guilty yesterday to mortgage and tax fraud. He will pay a $5 million settlement and spend a year in Rikers Island. [NY Daily News]

A 13-story Grove Street building’s sponsor will sell 65 percent of its stakes.
[Brownstoner]

The MIXER Reading & Music Series will take place for the first time tonight at Bushwick’s Our Wicked Lady, following a 10-year run at now-closed Cake Shop. [Bushwick Daily] Keep Reading »

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Landlord Steve Croman Charged With Criminal Fraud and Pushing Out Tenants

George Tzannes, a Croman tenant from the East Village last month (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

George Tzannes, a Croman tenant from the East Village last month (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Just a month ago we followed faith leaders and tenants as they tried to meet their landlord, Steve Croman of 9300 Realty (and honoree on The Village Voice‘s New York City’s 10 worst landlords list twice–once in 1998 and again in 2014). They wanted to deliver letters from 32 different religious figures, decrying Croman’s alleged tenant harassment tactics, such as cutting gas and heat, dangerous construction, low buyouts, and threatening frivolous lawsuits.

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Faith Leaders and Tenants Try to Meet Steve Croman, Don’t Have a Prayer

George Tzannes, a Croman tenant from the East Village (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

George Tzannes, a Croman tenant from the East Village (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

On a miserably rainy Thursday, just after lunchtime, about 10 people had gathered in front of a nondescript building on Broadway and the corner of Bleecker Street, holding signs with slogans such as “Stop Tenant Harassment” and “Stop Croman” while patiently waiting for permission to finally be allowed to enter the building and go up to the seventh floor, where they hoped to meet with Steven Croman, or at least with Oren Goldstein, the chief operating officer of Croman’s real estate company 9300 Realty. They had some important letters they needed to deliver, and it was best to do it in person.

The crowd consisted of members of the Cooper Square Committee, a tenant advocacy organization, members of the Movement for Justice in El Barrio, an East Harlem nonprofit, current Croman tenants, and a couple of representatives from different religious organizations, including Marc Greenberg, the executive director of the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. They had gathered in order to personally deliver letters from 32 different religious figures across the five boroughs to Croman, and express their grievances over his alleged ongoing tenant harassment.

Lannie Lorence, one of the tenants protesting Croman and his real estate company, tried to shield a big cardboard sign with the story of an elderly Croman tenant on one side and a satirical image of Croman on the other from the rain while he explained his complaints.

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

“I’m rent-stabilized, and [Croman’s company] has been harassing me to get out,” Lorence, who lives in a Croman-owned building on 23rd Street, said. “They brought this frivolous lawsuit against me saying that I haven’t been paying rent,” a claim he asserted was not true at all. “They’ve been very abusive in taking people to court,” he said, adding that threatened lawsuits were allegedly a common follow-up after previous attempts at removing tenants from rent-controlled and rent-stabilized buildings through low buy-outs, heat and gas cuts, and constant, seemingly pointless construction. “[Croman] will try anything he can to scare you.”

Bernarda Flores, a member of El Barrio and a tenant of a Croman-owned building on 108th Street, recounted a similar story. “We were called to court and told that we owed rent,” she said, explaining that a court-appointed lawyer eventually looked over Flores’ paperwork and determined that she, in fact, did not owe rent. Now Flores was seeking legal action in the New York Housing Court against Croman’s initial summons.

Croman is surely no stranger to this kind of publicity: in 2014, the New York State Attorney General launched an investigation against him regarding charges of using illegal methods to remove rent-stabilized tenants from his properties, and he has made The Village Voice‘s list of New York City’s worst landlords twice (once in 1998 and then again in 2014). There’s a Croman Tenants’ Alliance, which gives legal and practical tips to Croman tenants, as well as a Stop Croman Coalition.

Marc Greenberg reading from some of the letters (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Marc Greenberg reading from some of the letters (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Yonatan Tadele, the housing organizer at Cooper Square Committee, which had helped co-organize today’s event, hoped that the letters would lead to “tangible improvement.” He added that “this action has been in the works for a few months now,” and that Juan Haro, the director of El Barrio, came up with the idea of asking various religious leaders to submit letters in order to achieve a response from Croman.

The letters included statements by Catholic priests, rabbis, Buddhist leaders, and a variety of ministers from Pentecostal, Methodist, Unitarian, and other denominations. The original plan was to have Greenberg and some of the tenants read some of the letters to Croman or his COO before handing him the entire package, but the building’s security wasn’t having any of it, and the plan was readjusted, with the readings being conducted in the lobby, in front of a very exasperated security guard.

Rev. Valerie Holly (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Rev. Valerie Holly (Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

Two letters in, however, the building’s manager decided to put an end to it and ordered everyone out with threats that the police were waiting outside, ready to arrest the trespassers that we were. As everyone quietly shuffled back outside, Greenberg suggested they could send Croman the letters through a delivery service instead.

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

(Photo: Luisa Rollenhagen)

While five or six of New York’s finest were indeed assembled outside of the building, Haro, Greenberg, and others remained undeterred, and Rev. Valerie Holly from the Judson Memorial Church led a prayer for both Croman and his tenants. After a couple more speeches by other tenants, the congregation finally broke up, a bit deflated but undefeated, with promises to keep the pressure on, and to not lose hope. Before the group broke up, Greenberg mused aloud whether the letters could somehow be served to Croman, like divorce papers.

When we reached out for comment, Croman or another spokesperson from 9300 Realty were not available.

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Think Steve Croman Is a Bad Landlord? Wait’ll You See Klaus Kinski in Crawlspace

Today elected officials put out a joint statement complaining of the “pattern of tenant harassment” that has caused landlord Steve Croman to be investigated by the State District Attorney. But if you think Croman is a lousy landlord, wait’ll you Crawlspace, one of a dozen Klaus Kinski films that Anthology Film Archives is screening in the next week.
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Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune Sued Steve Croman Over a Restaurant That Wasn’t

Gabrielle Hamilton (Photo: Melissa Hom)

Gabrielle Hamilton (Photo: Melissa Hom)

That anti-Steve Croman parade isn’t the only headache the landlord is facing. Last week, the State Supreme Court ordered that he repay $57,075 to Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of Prune, who had considered one of his properties for a new eatery.
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14-Screen Movie Theater Coming to LES; Croman Loses Lawsuit

Christmas trees, East Village

(Photo: Scott Lynch)

LES development Essex Crossing will include a new 14-screen Regal Cinemas upon completion, making it the largest Lower Manhattan multiplex below Union Square. [DNA Info]

Near the Montrose Avenue L stop, a commercial property at 7 Bushwick Place was purchased for $12.5 million by a Williamsburg-based real estate group. [Wall Street Journal]

Landlord Steve Croman was on the losing end of a lawsuit and must pay a six-figure broker’s fee on the purchase of a five-story East Village apartment building he picked up in 2012. [The Real Deal]

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Controversial Landlords Agree to Six-Figure Settlement in Bushwick Buyout Case

A protestor outside of the Joneses’ East Third Street building in 2012. (Photo: Laura Edwins for The Local East Village)

Two controversial landlords who paid tenants to leave their rent-regulated apartments in Bushwick have reached a $132,000 settlement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today.

Between June 2016 and July of this year, Graham Jones and his brother Greg Jones gave buyouts to 33 residents– more than a third of the tenants– of three Bushwick buildings they had recently purchased, at 946 Bushwick Avenue, 920 Bushwick Avenue, and 1075 Greene Avenue. While the buyouts themselves were not illegal, the Joneses failed to provide written notices to the tenants informing them of their rights, including their right to refuse the offer and/or consult a lawyer. The landlords said they were unaware of the law, passed in 2015, that prohibits building owners from offering buyouts without giving tenants written notice– an act that falls under the legal definition of harassment. Among other things, the notice informs tenants that landlords are prohibited from contacting them for 180 days, should the tenant refuse a buyout.

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Alleged LES Groper Charged; Two Clinton Street Businesses Bow Out

Lower East Side tenant Daniel Young, 30, has been charged with groping an eight-year-old girl in an Essex Street courtyard one month ago. [DNA Info]

One of future Rikers resident Steve Croman’s East Village real estate partners filed a lawsuit yesterday in Manhattan State Supreme Court to block Edward Croman from assuming his son’s managerial duties. [The Real Deal]

Two Boots Pizza founders Phil Hartman and Doris Kornish, who broke up nearly three decades ago, are in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings on the five-story East Village townhouse they once shared. [Wall Street Journal] Keep Reading »

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Gun at Williamsburg School; Trump’s Grandpa Slummed It on the LES

In Williamsburg, Harry Van Arsdale High School was put on lockdown yesterday afternoon after a 17-year-old student showed a 15-year-old his gun, then stole the younger man’s cellphone. [Pix 11]

Meanwhile, students at another neighborhood high school filled the window of a local storefront with pro-immigrant and LGBTQ-friendly holiday decorations. [DNA Info]

Nine rent-stabilized tenants of 159 Stanton Street filed a lawsuit this week against their landlord, Steve Croman, for harassment and providing dangerous living conditions in the midst of ongoing construction. [DNA Info] Keep Reading »

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Latest Lowline Proposal Revealed; Hillary Clinton Art Fair

A woman received a cut on her neck while another was pushed to the ground in a pair of Grenpoint attacks last week. [DNA Info]

While his tenants rally outside Manhattan Criminal Court, notorious East Village landlord Steve Croman will go before a judge once again today as he faces a criminal indictment for mortgage fraud. [EV Grieve]

The latest edition of the Lowline proposal—now with an estimated price tag of $83 million—has been revealed. [Curbed NY] Keep Reading »