Infamous New York City landlord Steven Croman has agreed to pay $8 million in a settlement, which alleged he’d “bullied” tenants out of rent-controlled apartments.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced less than two week ago that he’d reached an agreement with the landlord. On top of $8 million toward the settlement’s restitution fund, the agreement also requires that an independent property management company take over Croman’s operations for the next five years.
“Over and over again, Steven Croman acted as though he was above the law, putting profits before his tenants’ safety and well-being,” said Schneiderman.
According to U.S. News, Croman’s company, 9300 Realty, Inc., said it was pleased to end the case and looked forward to “continuing to provide quality rental housing throughout New York City.”
Croman is currently behind bars for his role in a mortgage fraud case. Put away by Schneiderman, the landlord overstated rent incomes to secure millions of dollars in loans he may not otherwise have qualified for.
In addition to mortgage fraud, Schneiderman charged Croman with a total of 20 felonies. The indictments ranged from harassing tenants to grand larceny. In autumn, Croman pled guilty to grand larceny, tax fraud, and an additional fraud charge relating to his false statements.
The settled suit sheds some light on how shady Croman’s management tactics were. Participants in the litigation claim that Croman would file baseless lawsuits against tenants he wanted out, often sending an “intimidating” private investigator to accuse them of living in their homes illegally.
The goal, claims U.S. News, was to get rent-controlled tenants out of their flats. Pacing his office and chanting “buyouts, buyouts!”, Croman would make low-ball offers to his renters – sometimes coupling borderline-criminal tactics with amounts totaling less than three months’ worth of rent.
Croman didn’t terrorize tenants by himself, either. Calling private investigator Anthony Falconite his “secret weapon,” the landlord would send the former New York City police officer into unsuspecting residents’ homes.
Sometimes masquerading as a deliveryman, Falconite would utilize disguises and deception to trick renters into allowing him into their homes. Once inside, he’d accuse them of squatting. Other times, he’d obtain their employment information, harassing them at work or tracking down their relatives.
While Falconite hasn’t yet been convicted of any wrongdoing, he’s barred from interacting with any of Croman’s tenants for another five years.
Croman had owned some 150 buildings across New York City, but was forced to forfeit his brokerage license. The former landlord and bona fide bully will have to pay a compliance officer to ensure the company overseeing 9300 Realty’s operations is up to par and acting without bias.
New Yorkers are already struggling with high rents,” Schneiderman said in a press release. “We have zero tolerance for those who try to boost their bottom line by disregarding the welfare of their tenants. My office will continue to ensure that all landlords play by the rules, and aggressively pursue anyone who doesn’t to the fullest extent of the law.”