Slumlord Steve Croman Arrested, Faces 20 Felony Charges Over Fraudulent Activity
One of the most controversial landlords in the city, Steve Croman, surrendered to authorities yesterday for several felony fraud charges, according to Gothamist and the Daily News, which broke the story. The slumlord turned himself in, along with mortgage broker Barry Swartz, just as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a separate civil suit charging him with routinely employing threats and frivolous lawsuits to boot rent regulated tenants.
(He’s been under investigation since 2014.)Croman reportedly faces twenty felony counts, including grand larceny, falsifying business records, tax fraud, conspiring to defraud, and offering a false instrument; Swartz faces fifteen felonies including grand larceny, falsifying records, and conspiring to defraud. The two face up to twenty-five years in prison.
Croman owns 140 buildings across Manhattan, many of which are located on the Lower East Side. Much like his cohorts – Samy Mahfar and Ben Shaoul – the guy dealt in harassment. He used the “tenant relocator” services of ex-cop Anthony Falconite to bully residents out of residences in order to renovate and jack the rents. He, too, was served with a civil suit.
This simultaneous civil lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges Croman “directs an operation that wields harassment (and) coercion…to force rent-regulated tenants out of their apartments and convert their apartments into highly-profitable market-rate units.” If convicted in this case, he could be forced to pay restitution to tenants he’s harassed.
Croman also frequently created dangerous conditions in his target buildings by initiating disruptive construction all around tenants, ignoring city stop-work orders and exposing tenants to lead-tainted dust, the suit alleges.
He regularly ignored court orders to remedy decrepit conditions caused by illegal construction, often performed without required permits, the suit alleges. In the last few years, he’s been sued six times by the city for falsely claiming to have fixed illegal conditions.
And this is the kicker, from the Daily News…
Croman is a regular on the black-tie fundraiser circuit, posing for photos with socialites and living it up in the Hamptons – exploits that provide an image in stark contrast to the source of his wealth.
On a related note, being an asshole doesn’t stop with the next of kin, either. Recall that his son went on a hate-filled tirade against an Uber driver at the University of Michigan last month.