FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Former Owner of Three-Quarter Houses Sentenced to Up to Three Years in Prison for
Unlawfully Removing Tenants from Homes in Fraudulent Scheme
Forced Residents Out of Apartments During the Day,
Locked Doors, Put Belongings on the Street and Broke Stoves
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that the former owner of a company that operated three-quarter houses in Brooklyn was sentenced to one to three years in prison following his guilty plea to scheme to defraud. The defendant used various tactics to evict residents without a court order, including putting their belongings on the street, removing their mattresses, preventing them from cooking by breaking stoves and locking the doors to the residences to prevent entry after forcing them out during the daytime.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant preyed on vulnurable people who desperately needed a home. He did that to line his own pockets and deserves to be in prison for his fraudulent and cruel actions. His pattern of unlawful evictions and degrading living conditions were outrageous and I will not tolerate such behavior from any landlord in Brooklyn.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Yury Baumblit, 67, of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to one to three years in state prison following his guilty plea last month to first-degree scheme to defraud. The sentence will run concurrently with a two and a half to five years sentence stemming from a separate Medicaid fraud case that was handled by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, Baumblit operated Back on Track Inc., a company that rented out three-quarter houses (also known as transitional houses or sober houses). Most tenants in his houses received shelter allowance from the New York City Human Resources Administration and others paid the landlord in cash.
Between April 2014 and March 16, 2016, the defendant unlawfully evicted at least 10 tenants who occupied rooms for over 30 days – even though landlords cannot evict a tenant who occupies a room or a bed for 30 consecutive days without a court order. That constituted an ongoing scheme to defraud these tenants of their property. All the tenants were directed by Baumblit to attend a substance abuse program, even when they did not have a substance abuse problem.
One victim moved to 456 Glenmore Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn in May 2014 and resided there for over a year. During that period, Baumblit or his employee locked the residence during the day, according to the investigation. In addition, the victim observed the defendant or his employees removing mattresses belonging to tenants and destroying the stove so tenants could not cook.
Another tenant in the residence, who paid Baumblit in cash from his disability payments, was evicted after six months in the home when the defendant removed his belongings and placed another tenant in his bed. The victim sued in Tenant-Landlord Court and obtained an order directing Baumblit to return the bed to him. The defendant refused and the victim slept on the floor for more than four months.
At that same residence, another victim had surgery in early 2015 and, subsequently, was told by Baumblit he could not stay in the home during the day and had to attend his assigned program. The victim went to the program, collapsed in the street and was hospitalized for five days, according to the indictment.
The case was investigated by Detective Investigator Marvin Chalmers under the supervision of Supervising Detective Investigator Robert Addonizio and Deputy Chief Edwin Murphy. NYPD Police Officer Courney Vishawadia, of the 73rd Precinct, initially investigated the case and arrested the defendant.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Vivian Young Joo, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.