"NY authorities charge Brooklyn landlord in evictions case" AP June 18, 2015
NEW YORK — Authorities brought criminal charges Wednesday against a landlord they say drove tenants out of rent-regulated apartments by doing construction and demolition at his building and shutting off the heat.
The indictment charges Brooklyn landlord Daniel Melamed with three counts of unlawfully evicting tenants from rent-regulated apartments, endangering the welfare of a child, and filing a false document. Authorities also accused the engineer he hired to oversee construction on the 14-unit building, Pirooz Soltanizadeh, of filing a false document. Both pleaded not guilty.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the Crown Heights landlord’s arrest was the first to come from their joint task force launched in February to inspect properties that have been the subjects of harassment complaints.
The state law for the city’s rent regulations expired Tuesday, with Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders trying to negotiate an extension and possible revisions.
The old law needs to be changed because it contains an incentive for landlords to create vacancies so they can raise the rent, de Blasio said.
Authorities allege Melamed illegally shut off heat to rent-regulated tenants, even when outdoor temperatures fell below freezing, exposed tenants to lead dust up to 88 times higher than permissible levels, and destroyed interior walls and common spaces, creating fire hazards.