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.