Case 1:17-cv-02161-CBA-RML Document 1 Filed 04/10/17
DNAInfo – https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170418/bushwick/real-estate-landlord-tenant-housing-scam-investors
Man Behind Williamsburg Waterfront Transformation Sued for Investor Fraud
WILLIAMSBURG — The Brooklyn developer who laid the groundwork for an explosion of residential properties along the Williamsburg waterfront ran a get-richer-quick real estate scheme for five years, conning a small group of Israeli investors out of more than $20 million, according to a Brooklyn federal lawsuit.
Instead, the duo overcharged investors Jacob Schonberg, Binyomin Schonberg, Binyomin Halpern and Raphael Barouch Elkaim hundreds of thousands of dollars for each property and funneled the extra funds into 20 “secret properties,” according to the suit filed on April 10. From those hidden assets, they collected all the rental income — an extra $90 million for themselves.
While the buildings Strulovich and Oberlander were supposed to be refurbishing sunk into neglect, accruing building violations and stop-work orders, the partners sent their investors fictitious updates to trick them into believing things were going according to plan, and to encourage them to invest in additional properties, the lawsuit charges.
Williamsburg developer Yechezkel Strulovich and his Israeli business partner, Yechiel Oberlander, sweet-talked four well-heeled investors into sinking millions of dollars into 20 properties in Bushwick, Williamsburg, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, promising to fix up and manage the buildings and give the investors their money back in a matter of months, according to the suit filed on April 10. They also promised the funders a big cut of future profits.
The elaborate scam began in 2012, when Oberlander, a member of the small Orthodox Jewish community living in Israel, propositioned the four Israelis about investing in a series of Brooklyn properties, according to the suit.
They would see a full return on their investment within a matter of months, and they would reap 45 percent of the profits after that, Oberlander said, promising to take care of all the construction, renovation and property management needs.
Oberlander advertised his connection to Williamsburg developer Strulovich, whose “vision” for the Williamsburg waterfront in 1998 — which involved converting factories in loft apartments — led Crain’s New York to anoint him as one of “Brooklyn’s miracle makers.”
But in purchase after purchase, Strulovich and Oberlander lied to the investors about the sale price of the properties they’d bought, the lawsuit claims. The two charged overcharged for properties at 901 Bushwick Ave., 106 Kingston Ave. 1213 Jefferson Ave., 369 Gates Ave., 853 Lexington Ave., and 14 other locations by hundreds and thousands of dollars, the investors later found out.
All that extra money supported their “lavish lifestyles” and paid off their personal debts, the complaint claims, although much of it appears to have been funneled into the 20 “secret properties” that Strulovich and Oberlander bought with cash and loans using the investors’ properties as collateral, according to the suit.
Strulovich and Overlander led on their four marks with periodic payouts and photographs of construction sites as evidence of their project’s progress, the lawsuit claims.
The duo intentionally took advantage of the four Israeli investors and “knew that they were not United States citizens or residents, knew they were unfamiliar with the complexities of New York real estate and construction,” the lawsuit reads.
In truth, their actual properties were “languishing, unoccupied and unrenovated” and plagued with stop work orders, code violations and defaulted loan payments, the lawsuit says.
Take, for example, the commercial property at 73 Empire Blvd. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, where the partners claimed they had paid $1M to secure control of the ground-floor commercial lease.
They actually paid far less than that, the lawsuit alleges, and they never made any repairs on the building, eventually losing a potential contract with Dollar Tree, because actual trees growing inside made the building structurally unsafe, according to the lawsuit.
Another building at 454 Central Ave. has an active stop work order, 23 open Department of Building violations and owes the city more than $130,000 in unpaid Department of Building fines, city records show. It has been cited over the years for tilting dangerously and for collecting hazardous garbage and debris inside and out, DOB violation records show.
The investors first became suspicious in the spring of 2016, after Strulovich and Oberlander took out additional mortgages on three properties they said had run out of money. Then, in February, they found out the duo was trying to sell two of their properties without telling them, raising red flags and prompting them to probe their other investments.
The investors’ attorneys at Oved Law didn’t didn’t return a request for comment.
Judah Zelmanovitz, the attorney who represented the sales of several of the buildings, according to property records, couldn’t be reached for comment.
To read the article in its original format and for access to the case file click here.
Hasidic neighborhood in South Williamsburg is a top beneficiary of Section 8, but some question whether law is strictly followed
Little boys in yarmulkes peer from apartment balconies, watching the men below toss bread into a bonfire.
The annual spring ritual marks the first day of Passover in the Hasidic Jewish enclave of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where daily life is built on ancient laws and religious devotion. But the insular community depends on outside money to survive — federal subsidies to help many low-income Hasidic families cover the rent.
New York City’s 123,000 vouchers make this the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. Reluctant landlords and rising rents are making vouchers nearly impossible to use in many areas of the city. Tenants, especially larger families, are often relegated to the edges of Brooklyn and the Bronx. That’s why this cluster of Hasidic households stands out.
The neighborhood is home to one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 housing vouchers in the city, according to federal data analyzed by WNYC and the Daily News. In several of its census tracts, Section 8 tenants compose more than 30% of residents, a level reached only in scattered pockets of the Bronx.
Compounding the Cruelty of Abuse by Entertaining a Lawsuit Against one Brave Rabbi Willing to Stand up and Protect Abused Children.
We at LM hope that THE DAILY BEAST does not object to our decision to post the entire article from top to bottom. We would like to see rabbis and parents, teachers and other children applauded and praised for coming forward to protect abused children.
The children are precluded from suing the Rabbis who abuse them, the rabbis who use their Rabbinical stature as a tool for abuse, a corridor into the destruction of the very children they are entrusted to protect.
One Rabbi, knowing that Israel does not have a sex offender registry, tried to protect those children by tweeting about their abuser. He is now embroiled in a lawsuit over it.
We feel strongly that if the courts do not dismiss this lawsuit, they are encouraging silence. They are complicit in the crimes committed against the abused children.
We feel it is important to send the message that the courts, the communities and the families will commend Rabbis who come forward, thereby encouraging them to do so. Anything short of that, in our view, is just another act of cruelty and injustice against abused children.
Sex Offender Sues Rabbi for Tweets Alerting Families in Israel
GUEST AUTHOR: ERIK AIKEN, www.protectjewishkids.com
How the Brooklyn D.A. covers-up Orthodox child molesters, 2 of 2
This is the second in a 2-part series
In my first article, I wrote how a year and a half ago I made a public record request for the photos and arrest reports of 15 Orthodox men convicted by the Brooklyn D.A. The D.A. refused to give me any of the information that I requested.
Last week, I made a new Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Brooklyn D.A. (Brooklyn D.A. FOIL request) I asked for the photo, arrest report, case disposition (the court’s decision) and length of jail time served (if any) of 29 Orthodox individuals arrested for, or convicted of, child sex crimes by the Brooklyn D.A.
The following day, the D.A.’s office sent me a 3-page letter denying every request, for every individual. They refused to reveal to me a single case disposition or tell me how long a convicted Orthodox child molester spent in jail or even if they went to jail.
In 80% of the more than 3 dozen Orthodox convictions that I investigated in Brooklyn, the molester received probation or only a few months of jail time. By contrast, even though Federal child sex crimes are not necessarily more severe or heinous than the ones prosecuted by the Brooklyn D.A., every Federal conviction of an Orthodox child molester that I could find resulted in jail time, usually for many years.
As to my request for the molester’s photos, the D.A. told me that they would make me wait 6 months before releasing them to me. I filed an appeal of this ridiculous stonewalling and the D.A.’s office rejected my appeal.
New York’s public records law requires that documents be given to the requester within 20 days or “within a reasonable period” – Public Officer’s Law 89(3). Having public access to governmental records is a fundamental right of American citizens. This is the only way we can know what our government is doing and be able to hold officials accountable.
There is nothing “reasonable” about withholding photos of convicted Orthodox child molesters for 6 months. There is no justification for refusing to release conviction information about Orthodox child molesters or informing me of how much time they spent in jail, if any. In the time it took the D.A.’s office to write their 3-page laundry list of excuses of why they aren’t going to comply with the law, they could have instead provided me with the records that I requested.
Not only does current Brooklyn D.A. Kenneth Thompson refuse to release public records of Orthodox child molesters requested under FOIL, Thompson is also ethically-challenged in other ways.
Just last week, Thompson was fined $15,000 by the New York City Conflicts of Interests Board for using New York City police officers as his personal waiters and delivery boys to buy him thousands of dollars of meals, all at taxpayer expense. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/nyregion/ken-thompson-brooklyn-district-attorney-conflict-of-interest-case.html
When Kenneth Thompson ran for office, he promised to change the corrupt ways of his predecessor, Charles Hynes. “For his part, Thompson openly criticized Hynes’ record on crimes committed by the ultra-Orthodox. “Every community in Brooklyn has to be treated the same,” he said. “When I become Brooklyn DA, I’ll make sure there’s equal justice for everyone, under the law.” The Daily Beast – 2013
Among other things, Hynes was notorious for refusing to release to the public the identities of Orthodox child sex predators that he convicted, in contravention of standard practice by other D.A.’s. The covering-up of Orthodox child molesters by the Brooklyn D.A. allows rabbis to pretend that there isn’t a rampant child sex abuse crisis in Orthodox synagogues, schools, yeshivas, summer camps and mikvehs.
The Brooklyn D.A.’s failure to stop rabbinic witness intimidation
“…witness intimidation, a problem in the ultra-Orthodox community that District Attorney Charles Hynes himself has acknowledged is worse than anything he has seen even in organized crime and police corruption cases.” The Jewish Week – 6-26-12
“Hynes claims that his office has received numerous “allegations that some rabbis were actively counseling, intimidating and harassing victims of sexual abuse, coercing them from reporting abuse to authorities” The Jewish Week – 5-17-2012
The office of the Brooklyn D.A. publicly acknowledges that rabbis violate the law and coerce, threaten and punish victims to prevent them from testifying against their Orthodox abuser and that it’s worse than the Mafia. Nevertheless, Thompson has not prosecuted a single rabbi or their surrogates for witness intimidation.
Here’s how the Brooklyn D.A. protects Orthodox kids from sexual predators
Moshe Spitzer was charged with 135 counts of abuse, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of sodomy, was sentenced to 2 years in prison and was released after serving 3 months.
Andrew Goodman was charged with 114 counts of abuse. He was sentenced to 2 years in jail. When released, Goodman took one of his former victims across state lines and sodomized him. Taking a child across state lines to abuse him is a Federal crime. The Feds convicted him for that one act and got Goodman sentenced to 10 years to life.
Shimon Benisty was convicted of molesting 2 young girls and deemed a “sexually violent offender”. He was only sentenced to 11 months in prison. Upon release, he was deported to Israel where he was convicted of abusing 11 more children.
Mendy Tevel was charged with 37 counts of child sex crimes, some of them felonies that could have sent him to prison for life. He was sentenced to just 1 year in jail and was released after serving 7 months. He is not on the NY sex offender registry and reportedly now lives in Beverly Hills, CA. He was recently videoed roaming the halls of an Orthodox children’s school nearby.
Baruch Lebovits was sentenced to up to 32 years in prison for child sexual abuse. Due to the Brooklyn D.A.’s bungling of the case, Lebovits spent less than 16 months in prison.
Yona Weinberg is a convicted, level-3 child sex offender (the most dangerous tier) who is wanted by the Brooklyn D.A. on additional charges. Weinberg sent me a letter (Yona Weinberg lawyer letter and Israeli lawyer) from his lawyers that insist that Weinberg is not wanted by the police. (Note the unauthorized FBI watermark on the first and second pages). I spoke to NYPD fugitive task force Detective Kevin Lapin (who has Weinberg’s case) on 6/15/2016 and he told me that Weinberg is wanted and has been wanted since 9/10/14. Weinberg flew to Israel the next day. According to several victim advocates in Israel that I contacted, the Brooklyn D.A. is doing nothing to extradite Weinberg.
Rabbi Gershon Kranczer and his son, Asher Kranczer, both fled to Israel 6 years ago before they could be arrested on horrific child sexual abuse charges. Kranczer’s wife was reported to have driven them to the airport. The D.A. didn’t prosecute her.
Rabbi Kranczer has another son, Yechezkel, who didn’t escape and was charged with 72 counts of child sexual abuse. Yechezkel was convicted and given probation.
I asked the D.A. why they haven’t extradited either Kranczer from Israel and they told me it was part of an “ongoing investigation”. Really? Doing nothing for 6 years constitutes an ongoing investigation?
Meilech Schnitzler was convicted of throwing bleach into the eyes of child victim advocate, Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg. Schnitzler didn’t serve a day in jail. Thompson defended the total absence of punishment by saying that Schnitzler “will have to take an anger management class” New York Post, 6-18-14.
Mr. Thompson – Meilech Schnitzler doesn’t need an anger management class, he needs jail time.
Kenneth Thompson’s campaign promises of equal treatment under the law turned out to be empty. It appears that Thomson cares more about getting re-elected than prosecuting those who abuse Orthodox children. In Brooklyn, to get re-elected as D.A., you need the Orthodox bloc-vote and their campaign cash. That only happens when the rabbis see that you do their bidding by covering-up Orthodox child molesters and allowing rabbis to punish victims who go to the police.
Eric Aiken is the owner of http://www.protectjewishkids.com and an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. “The List” is the world’s largest database of Orthodox child molesters.
Help Identify Alleged Child Molester, Moshe Friedman – Protectjewishkids.com
Eric Aiken, Initially published July 3, 2016
Help Identify Alleged Child Molester, Moshe Friedman
According to the records of the New York State Court system, Moshe Friedman (approximately 31 years old) was arrested in January, 2015 on 2 felony child sexual abuse charges. He is alleged to have abused a young boy at the Bobov (48) yeshiva located at 4206 15th Avenue in Boro Park. I believe he was a special ed teacher, but have not been able to confirm it.
I have a copy of the police report (which I am not free to share). What Friedman is alleged to have done to the boy is indescribably shocking. The report contains the most sadistic child abuse allegations I have ever read other than the Elior Chen abuse case in Israel (Elior Chen – sentenced). The Israeli judge in the Chen case said that it was the worst child abuse case in the history of Israel.
Friedman’s case is still languishing in the Office of the Brooklyn District Attorney while he is out on bail. In spite of the severity of the charges, there is every possibility he will get a sweetheart plea bargain with little or no prison time and perhaps without even getting lengthy probation and placement on the sex offender registry. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn DA exchanges leniency for ultra orthodox political support. Worse yet, Haredi leadership is more interested in protecting offenders than sparing Haredi children.
Friedman is being represented by noted defense attorney, Arthur Aidala, one of the highest-priced criminal defense lawyers in Brooklyn and a political mover and shaker. Aidala also defended Baruch Lebovits together with Alan Dershowitz (Baruch Lebovits – Dershowitz sued). Freidman’s high-priced lawyer makes me wonder if some important people are backing him.
I don’t have a picture of Friedman and as there are many Moshe Friedman’s in the world who have no connection to this case, it would be helpful if someone can send me a picture of the Moshe Friedman who has been arrested.
I usually don’t write about specific Orthodox child sexual abuse cases. I prefer to focus on the rabbis and Orthodox institutions who regularly protect and cover-up Orthodox child molesters as being the true source of the unchecked plague of abuse in our communities.
However, knowing the Brooklyn D.A.’s long, sick, history of giving convicted Orthodox child molesters little or no jail time, I want to try to publicize the Friedman case. In the event that there is a conviction, perhaps the increased publicity might make it more difficult for the Brooklyn D.A. to deliver its usual sweetheart deals. If the D.A. does sign on to a sweetheart deal, the media will be alerted to the severity of the crimes.
Friedman’s next court hearing will be in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court on Wednesday July 20. The judge on the case is Raymond Guzman. The assistant D.A. is Deanna Michelle Paul.
If you have any information or photos of the Moshe Friedman who worked at the Bobov yeshiva in Boro Park, please email me at email@example.com
Eric Aiken is the owner of www.protectjewishkids.com and is an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. “The List” on his website contains the world’s largest database of known Orthodox child molesters.
SHAYA LICHTENSTEIN – CROOKED LICENSE BROKER WITH GREAT RELATIONSHIPS…
EXCLUSIVE: NYC gun broker accused of bribing cops used cozy relationships with NYPD to have clients avoid mandatory interviews
Crooked gun license broker Shaya Lichtenstein’s access to police was so good that his applicants didn’t even have to come to headquarters for a mandated interview before they got their permits, the Daily News has learned.
That revelation comes from John Chambers, a Manhattan lawyer who specializes in New York City gun licenses.
Chambers is now representing a number of Lichtenstein’s clients who have either had their licenses suspended as a result of Lichtenstein’s indictment.
The NYPD has suspended 37 permits as part of their review of the permits.
NYPD policy requires deep and extensive background checks, and a lengthy interview after the applicants are fingerprinted.
Chambers said Lichtenstein’s clients, especially the more recent ones, only had to submit a minimal amount of documentation before they got their licenses.
“There is a mountain of documentation that’s required, but all some of them needed to send in was a few pieces of paper for the permit to go forward,” Chambers said.
Lichtenstein was charged April 18 in Manhattan Federal Court with bribing cops with $6,000 in cash and other goodies to expedite gun permit requests.
A former leader of the Brooklyn Shomrim security patrol, he billed his clients between $5,000 and $25,000 for the service, records show.
Two officers were transferred out of the licensing unit as part of the far-reaching NYPD corruption probe.
Lichtenstein, 44, was so cozy with cops in the license division that he’d spent nearly every day inside the office in Police Headquarters since 2014, federal court papers say.
To read the full article click here.