Jail Term For New York Landlord Sends A Strong Message, Attorney Jeffrey Benjamin Says

attorney Jeffrey BenjaminA New York City landlord will spend one year in jail and has been forced to fork over $5 million in tax settlements after being sentenced on charges of tax fraud, according to the New York State Attorney General’s Office.  In an Oct. 3, 2017 press release, the office states that a year-long investigation allegedly revealed that Steven Croman was purchasing Manhattan buildings with “rent-stabilized units” and would not long after attempt to force out those tenants then try and refinance the mortgage.

The culmination of this case is of interest to New York-based attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who previously obtained a landmark punitive damage verdict at the end of a real estate fraud trial. Mr. Benjamin, who has decades of experience with real estate and fraud cases, says that it’s rare to see a landlord sentenced to jail time; and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman concurs.

“Steven Croman thought he was above the law. But today, he begins a sentence in Rikers Island for perpetrating an elaborate scheme that was intended to push out rent-stabilized tenants,” Schneiderman said in the press release. “The measures Mr. Croman took to boost his own bottom line – while blatantly disregarding the wellbeing of his tenants – are shocking. A booming real estate market is no excuse for criminal activity aimed at displacing New Yorkers already struggling with high rents,” he continued.

According to the release, Croman pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny as well as first-degree falsifying business records and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud. The attorney general’s office adds that the jail term and hefty fine — $3 million of which has already been paid — has been enforced as to “send a strong message to landlords” that real estate and fraud allegations will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.” The press release goes on to state that Croman was inflating the rent figures and income that he reported as to obtain better refinancing terms. Additionally, he allegedly received some $45 million in loans as a result of his alleged practices, which also included withholding payroll taxes from bonus payments that were being made to one of Croman’s former property managers. That  manager, according to the attorney general’s office, was receiving bonuses for evicting the rent-controlled tenants from Croman’s buildings.

According to attorney Jeffrey  Benjamin, disturbing and unfair real estate cases like this one warrant the thorough investigation and prosecution that was put to use here. Mr. Benjamin, whose knowledge  of the New York Deceptive Practices Act has helped many of his clients in court. He says that those who feel they’ve been wronged shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a competent and experienced fraud lawyer for guidance and advice.

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$298K Settlement In Car Dealership’s Fraud Shows Importance Of Consumers’ Rights Cases

attorney Jeffrey Benjamin

Described as “bogus” by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, certain practices at a New York car dealership have resulted in a $298,000 settlement to resolve fraud allegations. Specifically, Pana Nissan LLC — which was doing business as Nissan of New Rochelle in the Queens section of New York City – was charging car-buyers for an unwanted and essentially useless “Total Car Protection” anti-theft product. The price of this bogus add-on ranged from a few hundred dollars up to $5,000 and was tacked on after the sale was finalized.

According to the attorney general’s office, the investigation began in August 2015 after a consumer complaint. This fact, says consumers’ rights attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, demonstrates the significance of members of the public coming forward when they suspect wrongdoing is going on unchecked.  Mr. Benjamin has seen what’s to gain by securing  successful verdicts and settlements in court and his hard work on behalf of clients when trying deceptive practice claims has been a point of personal pride for years. Mr. Benjamin’s sentiments on the settlement were confirmed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman when the restitution was announced in an August 2017 press release from his office.

“Consumers should not have to worry that they are being scammed into adding on bogus products and services when they purchase a car,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Buying a car is already a major investment for many families, and tacking on thousands of dollars extra can become a significant financial burden. I am pleased that we are able to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to the nearly 300 consumers who were scammed and defrauded.”

According to the attorney general’s office, the “Total Loss Protection” guarantee was supposed to be an engraving of the vehicle’s VIN number onto the windows of the vehicle in hopes of deterring theft. However, this etching was either not carried out or done in the style of a sticker in the door jamb, which wouldn’t be immediately visible to would-be thieves. According to attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who has spent years trying and settling consumers’ rights cases in courts across New York and New Jersey, this is a perfect example of what one whistle-blower can do. Mr. Benjamin advises those in the New York City and Long Island area to contact his practice should they have fraud allegations that  could result in a lawsuit. His firm is accustomed to going up against adversaries with  limitless resources, and they are those cases his firm seeks out and upon which they offer decades of litigation skill and experience.

According to the attorney general’s office, the $276,127 will be refunded to 298 customers who were  duped into paying for the Total Loss Protection. Nissan of New Rochelle was also fined $22,084 and agreed to “reforms” of its sales practices, including full disclosure of all after-sale products.