Coney Island

Three tenants arrested in Luna Park housing bribery scheme

October 17, 2019 Kelly Mena
A building at the Luna Park housing complex in Coney Island. Photo courtesy of Google Images
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Three tenants involved in a housing scheme at an affordable housing complex in Coney Island were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly forging their way into obtaining coveted real estate, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office announced.

The defendants are tenants at Luna Park: Leonid Dakhe, 64, Tatyana Langman, 71, and Sabina Berkovich, 40. They were arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court before Judge Michael Yavinsky on Wednesday, according to court records.

The trio face multiple charges, including counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and one count of second-degree making an apparently sworn false statement, according to court records.

Dakhe, Langman and Berkovich were arrested as part of the long-term investigation into a bribery scheme announced earlier this year involving three of the affordable housing complex’s board members, who allegedly accepted bribes to fudge the co-op’s highly coveted waitlist.

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The scandal led City Council member Chaim Deutsch, who represents the area, to pull $500,000 in funding earmarked for security upgrades after the allegations came to light.

The Luna Park Housing Corp. is a Mitchell-Lama development that houses about 6,000 people. Mitchell-Lama buildings — affordable co-ops for moderate and middle-income families — have notoriously long waitlists. These waitlists can be legally bypassed through succession rights: Tenants can give up their apartments to a family member in a bid to skip the line.

“Their alleged actions deprived honest, law-abiding home seekers a chance to obtain affordable housing, so we will now seek to bring these defendants to justice for their respective roles in this alleged corrupt scheme,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said that, according to the investigation, between July 16, 2015 and Aug. 26, 2015, defendants Langman and Berkovich submitted false documents falsely claiming to be mother and daughter, so that Berkovich could gain succession rights to Langman’s apartment located at 2900 W. Eighth St. in Luna Park.

Among the alleged forged documents: a forged marriage certificate that falsely identified Berkovich’s maiden name as Langman and omitted the names of her parents, and a letter from Langman falsely stating Berkovich was her daughter and resided with her, according to the investigation.

The court documents go on to allege that between Jan. 23, 2018, and Jan. 26, 2018, defendant Dakhe, having acted in concert with the other defendants, allegedly obtained fraudulent succession rights to an apartment in the complex located at 2820 W. Eighth St. The 64-year-old is accused of submitting a succession application that falsely stated he was the brother of the prior tenant, and that he resided in the apartment with the tenant for more than a year.

“These defendants sought an unfair advantage for themselves by making false statements and submitting fabricated documents to government officials at the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, according to the charges. This corrupt scheme undermined fair access to affordable housing in Brooklyn,” said Margaret Garnett, commissioner of Department of Investigations.

All of the defendants were released without bail, according to the DA’s Office. Dakhe was ordered to return to court on Dec. 11, while Langman and Berkovich were ordered to return to court on Dec. 18.

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