Brooklyn slumlord who wrongfully evicted tenants pleads guilty to fraud charges
A Brooklyn judge promised jail time to a real estate developer who pleaded guilty on Monday to fraud and grand larceny charges connected to unlawful eviction of his Crown Heights tenants.
Daniel Melamed was previously convicted in a June Brooklyn Supreme Court bench trial for pushing out rent-controlled tenants from his building at 1578 Union St. near Troy Avenue. Evidence found he illegally shut off heat, deprived tenants of services and exposed them to lead dust from construction in a scheme to benefit from higher rents on new tenants.
Separate scams between 2011 and 2014 where Melamed defrauded banks landed him at his Monday court appearance. His guilty plea is in conjunction with a promised sentence of 30 days in jail and five years on probation.
With slicked-back hair and touting a gold-colored watch and belt buckle, the slumlord pleaded guilty to grand larceny, residential mortgage fraud and forgery charges.
Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun gave Melamed the option to pay a $200,000 fine by his next Jan. 25, 2018 court date to have the sentence reduced to only 20 days in jail. Melamed will also be barred from buying or selling rent-controlled properties while on probation.
Prosecutors argued for more jail time to deter the developer from breaking the law again.
“Mr. Melamed … puts himself in a position where he is incentivized to do harm,” Assistant Attorney General Brian McDonald said in court. “He does not pause to do that harm.”
Defense attorney Kevin Keating rebutted by noting his client was buying and selling more than 800 properties without incidents, but agreed to the plea deal after three calls back to the judge.
Melamed and other associates are accused of cutting and pasting signatures of bank employees and letterheads onto false letters to help get Brooklyn property, according to court documents.
In Melamed’s previous trial, three tenants testified to tell how they had to bath in buckets and use ovens to heat their apartments, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s office. They also recollected covering their noses and mouths to guard against the lead dust, which carried levels that exceeded acceptable measures by up to 88 times.
This is the first case resulting from the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force made by state and city agencies in February 2015.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment