It's been a while since we heard about Steven Croman, the prolific Manhattan landlord who's so reviled, his tenants across multiple buildings have banded against him with lawsuits, websites, flyers, and more. In 2014, the New York State attorney general's office launched an investigation into Croman's real-estate firm, 9300 Realty, based on accusations that he used illegal tactics and intimidation to force rent-stabilized tenants out of his buildings. And today, that investigation has finally come to some sort of resolution: the AG's office brought 20 felony charges against Croman, according to the New York Times, and also brought its own lawsuit against the crooked landlord, which would force him to pay restitution to tenants he's screwed over.
Croman's firm owns hundreds of buildings throughout Manhattan, with a particularly high concentration on the Lower East Side. For years, he's found himself on numerous lists of the "worst landlords in New York City," with tenants accusing him of all manner of shady practices: intimidating rent-regulated tenants into taking buyouts, charging market rates for poorly renovated apartments, neglecting to remediate lead dust in buildings, and the list goes on and on.
According to the Times, the AG's suit names these practices and more:
The attorney general's office accused Mr. Croman of harassing and coercing "countless working-class and low-income families out of their longtime homes." Mr. Croman then turned those vacant rent-regulated apartments into lucrative market-rate units, often with shoddy and illegal construction that violated lead-safety laws and endangered tenants who remained in the buildings, court documents said. Mr. Croman’s companies are also accused of repeatedly ignoring violations and orders issued by the city’s buildings and health departments.
Yikes. Croman could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of all of these charges; an associate, Anthony Falconite, is also named in the suit, and Croman's mortgage broker, Barry Schwartz, was also charged with 15 felonies.
Tenants who have lived in Croman's buildings are already celebrating the news: In a statement released by Movement for Justice in El Barrio, a community organization in East Harlem that has fought against Croman, Esparanza Figueroa said "We are pleased that this landlord is being held accountable for the abuses he tried to inflict on us. Tenants deserve dignity, respect and justice and Croman gave us none of those things." We've also reached out to the folks behind the Croman Tenants' Alliance, and will report back with any statement or comment.