On the one hand, he made sure to deposit the rental payments dutifully made by long-time tenants of one of his many residential properties in New York City. In fact, he continued cashing those checks even months after the renters — a family of seven — had vacated the premises.
On the other hand, he coupled that due attention to rent outlays with concerted action over time that was decidedly focused upon making life so abjectly miserable for the parents and their five children that they ultimately had to leave — out of fear for their lives.
The story details that unfolded in a New York Times article last week tell a dismal tale of bad-faith landlord conduct driven by avarice and an absolute disregard for the health and safety of tenants.
Coupled with those details is this additional piece of information: owner/landlord Ephraim Vashovsky and two other people working with him now face a potentially lengthy incarceration period for actions that are enumerated in multiple criminal counts under New York state law.
A recent indictment brought against those individuals relates to their conduct at a 10-unit rental complex in East Harlem that Vashovsky purchased in 2014. The criminal document alleges that, following other tenants’ departure from the premises, the men wasted no time in proceeding with the gutting of the building, even while the family of seven continued living in it and were lawfully paying rent.
Tactics described by law enforcement officials as “egregious” included these:
- Shutting off heat and hot water in the middle of winter
- Blocking a fire exit while engaging in demolition work
- Threatening to report the family to immigration authorities
- Removing internal floors and walls of adjoining apartments
Prosecutors in the case termed those actions “a campaign of intimidation and harassment” against the family.
In addition to the potential prison terms awaiting the men, they could also be forced to pay more than $3 million to the city in fines and penalties.