Although that might typically sound like a word closely linked with pirates or the worst kind of fraudsters, it recently featured in a New York Times article in connection with New York City landlords.
Brothers, to be specific, who have prominently been in the press for all the wrong reasons.
Their wrongdoing has been spotlighted via the released details of a criminal complaint and the settlement terms the brothers — who own a number of residential buildings in Brooklyn — reached with state prosecutors to avoid going to prison.
How egregious could their actions have been to potentially warrant a multi-year lock up in a state penitentiary?
Here’s one example. In an attempt to intimidate tenants in rent-controlled units and hasten their departure in order to install new renters at market rates, the brothers hired individuals to patrol apartment hallways with pit bulls and sledgehammers.
And here’s another, as noted by the Times: The brothers actually “invited non-tenants to use drugs in common areas.”
Prosecutors cited myriad other shocking strategies employed by the brothers to oust tenants lawfully occupying units, including leaving families without running water for nearly a year and a half, and gutting units on one floor while people were still living in properties a story above.
Reportedly, they also played an active role in sabotaging one of their properties, which resulted in an entire building ordered to be vacated by city officials.
The brothers could still go to prison in the event they don’t fully comply with the settlement terms imposed upon them. Those include restitution of close to a quarter million dollars to some tenants, as well as a $100,000 additional payment, an imposed 500 hours of community service, and a multi-year probationary period.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spoke in the wake of the plea agreement, stating that New York has “zero tolerance” for unlawful landlord activity.