The two slumlord brothers who admitted to destroying North Brooklyn apartments in order to force out rent-stabilized tenants were sentenced today in Brooklyn Supreme Court, and were miraculously spared jail time even after pleading guilty. Joel and Amron Israel were arrested in 2015 for incidents dating back to 2013 that include sending a worker to tear out the kitchens and baths and smash thermostat and electric systems in several North Brooklyn buildings.
The plan, the Israels admitted, was to render the spaces unlivable so that rent-stabilized tenants would leave and the apartments could be renovated for market-rate tenants. For that doozy of a scheme, the brothers were sentenced to five years of probation and 500 hours of community service. They’ll also pony up $248,000 to eight tenants wronged by their tactics.
Gothamist notes that the plea also resolves a civil case brought by the Governor’s Tenant Protection Unit, in which the Israels will pay $100,000 to a compensation fund for targeted tenants. The landlords also agreed to be monitored for five years to ensure that they aren’t harassing their tenants. DNAinfo notes that under the terms of the deal, the Israels have six months to pay tenants or else they face up to four years in jail.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez heralded the deal, saying in a statement that “[l]andlords across Brooklyn should be put on notice by today's felony guilty pleas that illegal actions they may take to harass and intimidate tenants in rent regulated apartments will not go unpunished.”
Judith Goldliner at the Legal Aid Society’s Law Reform Unit, who represented one of the wronged tenants, didn’t agree. “If anyone richly deserved to go to jail, it was the Israel brothers,” Goldliner told Gothamist “Landlords will look at this as the cost of doing business."
Tenants can file complaints with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development through 311 Online.