A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of NYC Landlord Dean Galasso For Mortgage Fraud
Arrest Follows Investigation By Joint State-City Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that Dean Galasso, a New York City landlord with multiple properties in Manhattan and Queens, was indicted on six felony charges stemming from an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain a multi-million-dollar mortgage to finance the purchase of a rental building. This indictment results from an investigation led by the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force (“Task Force”), the multi-agency task force, which was announced by Attorney General Schneiderman, Mayor de Blasio, and Governor Cuomo in February 2015.
According to the indictment and papers filed in court Galasso allegedly submitted false mortgage documents to Investors Bank, including a falsified rent roll, to obtain a $5,025,000 mortgage to finance the purchase of 43 Essex Street, a 10-unit rental building in Manhattan. Galasso also allegedly forged certain leases for units in his building in an effort to support the false information contained in the rent roll, which Investors Bank relied upon to approve of its mortgage.
“Bad landlords are now on notice: if you attempt to break the law, we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Our task force will continue to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who try to game the system.”
Governor Cuomo said: “Today's actions send a strong message that any form of tenant harassment would not be tolerated in New York. Our state’s Tenant Protection Unit will continue to use every legal means necessary to pursue and prosecute any landlord that blatantly violates our laws to ensure every tenant is protected.
“We will use every tool at our disposal, including the criminal courts, to go after bad landlords who abuse their authority and hurt tenants,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “I thank Attorney General Schneiderman, DOB and HPD and our agency task force partners as we move to clean up the fraud and greed that hurts New York families.”
NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said; “Once again, our Governor’s Tenant Protection Unit has exposed egregious wrong doing on the part of a bad landlord. TPU continues to operate on the forefront of proactive enforcement to protect the rights of rent regulated tenants. Thanks to our initial investigation, the help of Asian Americans for Equality and Manhattan Legal Services, and the hard work of the state and city Tenant Harassment Task Force, the residents at 43 Essex Street can rest assured that justice will be done on their behalf.”
“DOB is proud to work with Attorney General Schneiderman and all our Task Force partners to fight tenant abuses aggressively. Last year alone, the Task Force inspected 2,179 properties with complaints of tenant harassment, and we issued 2,163 violations and 276 stop-work orders. Where possible, we also make immediate repairs to keep tenants in their homes,” said NYC Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler, PE.
“This latest Task Force arrest shows that when we say bad landlords won’t be tolerated, we mean business,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “The joint City and State Task Force was created to aggressively target any building owner who attempts to skirt the law. I want to thank the Attorney General’s Office, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and the New York City Department of Buildings for their continued partnership as we work to prevent harassment and ensure the safety of New York City residents.”
According to the unsealed indictment, Galasso, 49, faces one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a Class B Felony, two counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, Class D Felonies, two counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Class D Felonies, and one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a Class E Felony. If convicted, Galasso faces up to 25 years in prison.
The arrest is the result of a joint investigation into 43 Essex Street by the Task Force that resulted from tenant complaints of harassment and unsafe conditions. The Task Force inspections resulted in a referral of the criminal case to the Attorney General’s Office from the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal, via its Tenant Protection Unit (“TPU”).
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.