Landlord Steve Croman Sentenced to One Year at Rikers

Steve Croman after his surrender May 9, 2016.
Steve Croman after his surrender May 9, 2016.
Steve Croman after his surrender May 9, 2016.

Residents of Steve Croman’s many New York City buildings looked on in court this morning as the reviled landlord was sent away to Riker’s Island to begin serving a one-year sentence.

Croman owns around 140 buildings, including some on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown. In June, he pleaded guilty to fraudulently refinancing loans and committing tax fraud. A deal with State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman required him to serve the prison sentence and pay a $5 million fine. The judge had agreed to let Croman remain free during the Jewish High Holidays.

Here’s how the Daily News reported today’s sentencing:

For years notorious Manhattan landlord Steve Croman has dodged accusations that he engaged in aggressive harassment campaigns to force rent-regulated tenants out so he could charge higher rents. Early Tuesday Croman finally faced the music… Tenants have complained about Croman’s heartless tactics for years, most recently tenants in gentrifying neighborhoods like the Lower East Side and East Harlem where landlords are hoping to charge exorbitant rents.

Croman admitted to acquiring $45 million in loans for his properties by passing off rent-stabilized apartments as market rate units. More from The Real Deal:

At sentencing, Croman was dressed in black skinny jeans and black-and-white sneakers. When asked by Judge Jill Konviser if he would like to say any words in response to his sentence, Croman replied “no thank you.”

“I hope you spend those days thinking about those you harmed,” Konviser said. She also asked him to reflect on the religious principles that helped delay his sentencing, as he was previously scheduled to come before the judge prior to Rosh Hashanah.

In a press release put out this morning, Schneiderman said:

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… 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. My office will continue to ensure that all landlords play by the rules – and pursue anyone who doesn’t to the fullest extent of the law.

Croman’s attorney, Ben Brafman told The Real Deal he expects his client to serve eight months in prison. The state AG has sued Croman in civil court. That case is still pending.