Community Activist Accused of Embezzling From Low-Income Forsyth Street Co-op

A Lower East Side political activist with a history of criticizing abusers of subsidized housing has been accused of stealing more than $260,000 from a small low-income co-op at 172 Forsyth St. for which he served as the property manager, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Roberto Caballero, 53, was arraigned in Supreme Court this afternoon. He faces one charge of second-degree grand larceny, 18 counts of second-degree forgery, 18 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument (second degree) and 8 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, according to a District Attorney spokeswoman.

According to authorities, Caballero is accused of forging more than 150 checks from the building’s bank account in the treasurer’s name between January 2007 and July 2010. He is also accused of quadrupling his $450/month salary, by arranging to have $450 deposited weekly rather than monthly, into his own account, according to the Supreme Court indictment. As property manager, he was responsible for collecting rent from tenants and making deposits into the building’s bank accounts to pay the bills and maintenance costs for the six-story, 17-unit building which faces Sara D. Roosevelt Park, between Rivington and Stanton streets.

Caballero is no stranger to headlines. In 2010, the New York Post and Gothamist featured his public accusations about a “lesbian-friendly” building in the East Village discriminating against men, noting the affordable units were favored by well-to-do gay women, including Margarita Lopez, a housing authority board member and former city councilwoman, and current Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. A week later, the Post quoted him extensively as a “manager of many Lower East Side low-income co-ops,” in a piece about abuses of the city’s affordable housing programs.

Funding Approved for Pier 42 and East River Waterfront

A rendering of one proposal for Pier 42 along the East River.

Two major projects along the East River waterfront moved one step closer to reality this morning, when the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation voted officially to fund them.

As we’ve been expecting, the redevelopment of Pier 42 was allotted $14 million, while another $1.9 million was tagged for the completion of the East River Waterfront Park.

Both projects have been championed  by state Sen. Daniel Squadron and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who announced last fall that they had secured a promise of the funding. Today’s vote made it official and set the stage for the planning process to formally begin; a public meeting is scheduled for next month.

“This funding will be a step toward the world-class waterfront and open space we’ve long fought for, while continuing the revitalization of Lower Manhattan,” Squadron said in a prepared statement after the vote. “By connecting Lower Manhattan’s waterfront parks, it will create a ‘continuous green ribbon’ and move us a big step closer to a Harbor Park – a central park for the center of our city.”

Arts Symposium at University Settlement This Weekend

Our friends and neighbors at University Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, along with many other community organizations, are teaming up on a free three-day event that begins this evening at the University Settlement building, 184 Eldridge St.

The Art is Not Apart Symposium will bring together artists, educators, curators and community workers who seek to reclaim the arts as an integral part of community life.

Explore the Bike Share Program This Weekend

You’ve heard all the buzz about the NYC Bike Share program for the last few months. Maybe you voted online for a station in the neighborhood. It’s scheduled to launch this summer, and this weekend is your chance to get up close and personal with the program at an open house on Saturday, Jan. 28 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Essex Street Market. Program operators Alta Bicycle Share will show off the bikes, answer questions and give away goodies in an event sponsored by the Lower East Side BID, the city’s Department of Transportation and the Essex Street Market.

CB3 Approves Essex Street Lighting Plan

There are 18 bishop's crook light fixtures on Essex Street.

Tuesday evening, Community Board 3 voted in favor of a proposal from the Lower East Side Business Improvement District to replace 28 street lights on Essex Street, between East Houston and Canal.  The plan now goes to the Public Design Commission for approval.

Today in Signs That Make You Feel Good

We all know that myth about New Yorkers being cold and unhelpful to each other is untrue. This week’s proof: someone stopped a bike thief on East Houston Street Monday morning and is trying to return the bike to its rightful owner. This note is posted on the south side of the street just west of the intersection with Allen Street. (We presume they mean bring the key in that last sentence.) If you know the bike’s owner, tip them off. If you have interesting photos from around the Lower East Side you’d like to share, tip us!

Morning Reads: The Return of CBGB?, Green Buildings, Bar Noise, Photography Both Current and Historic

  • Music fans, don’t get too excited, it’s all still hearsay. But yes, there’s some talk of rekindling CBGB in a new location, and possibly launching a summer music festival. (Gothamist, BrooklynVegan)
  • The Henry Street Settlement building is featured in a piece about the greening of historic NYC buildings. (NYT)
  • An analysis of 311 complaints about noise points fingers at various East Village venues, but bar owners shrug it off as a few unhappy neighbors. (EVLocal)
  • A series of photographs of the interior of an historic East Village theater hiding above a soon-to-be-defunct bodega on Avenue A has gone viral. Check out the original post if you haven’t already. (EVGrieve)
  • More photos: A collection of shots by Charles W. Cushman from 1941 and 1942 show long-gone scenes of the Lower East Side. McSorley’s Ale House looks exactly the same, though. (DailyMail)


Good Morning!

Photo by Stewart Mader. See more of his work at

Cloudy and damp is the ruling weather pattern today. Look for drizzles this morning and rain this afternoon, with highs in the mid-40s.