The Daily News reported today that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reached an agreement with "tenant relocator" Michel Pimienta whereby Pimienta will pay a $40,000 fine and promise (whatever that's worth) to stop trying to "relocate" rent-stabilized tenants. This represents a small victory in the usually depressing war of Rent-Stabilized Tenants Who Live in Desirable Areas vs. Malicious Landlords and Their Cohorts.
Pimienta has been operating for around a decade as a hired gun for the delightful group of landlords who buy rent-stabilized buildings in order to kick everyone out and start making some real money. (Accused slumlord Steven Croman employs a retired police officer named Anthony Falconite in a similar position.) Pimienta's alleged tactics range from harassing phone calls to showing up at tenants' apartments unannounced to making spurious eviction threats. Some tenants have said that he has even gone so far as to follow them after they've left their buildings, presumably in an effort to catch them in some sort of evict-able offense, or just to scare the crap out of them. One such tenant anonymously recounted her story to the Daily News:
"It was about two months of the knocks and the creepiness," she said. "He would knock on my door without warning. He would be hanging outside in the lobby."
At some point, he told her, "the landlord has some information on me, but he said that was between us, like he was trying to be my friend.
Prior to become a "relocator," Pimienta had been accused by state regulators of running a brothel. UPDATE: Pimienta was actually accused by state regulators of harassing a tenant by accusing the tenant of running a brothel. Curbed regrets the error.
· EXCLUSIVE: 'Tenant relocator' accused of harassing renters is put out of business by AG Eric Schneiderman [NYDN, via EV Grieve]
· Related coverage [Curbed]