FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Three Luna Park Housing Corporation Tenants Arrested for
Submitting Forged Documents for Illegal Purchase of
Highly Desirable and Affordable Mitchell-Lama Apartments
Part of Continuing Investigation that Led to Charges Against
Co-op Board of Directors President and Treasurer, and Co-op Office Manager
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett, today announced that three Luna Park Housing tenants have been arrested on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records to illegally obtain, or help another person obtain, apartments in the Mitchell-Lama complex in Coney Island.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A system that was put into place to ensure fair and equitable access to affordable housing was corrupted and we allege that these defendants took advantage of a scheme to illegally purchase or help others purchase apartments to which they were not entitled. Their alleged actions deprived honest, law-abiding home seekers a chance to obtain affordable housing, so we will now seek to bring these defendants to justice for their respective roles in this alleged corrupt scheme.”
Commissioner Garnett said, “These defendants sought an unfair advantage for themselves by making false statements and submitting fabricated documents to government officials at the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, according to the charges. This corrupt scheme undermined fair access to affordable housing in Brooklyn. But working with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and our federal and City partners, we are holding accountable those individuals whose alleged actions manipulated the process and we are actively working to remedy the vulnerabilities we uncovered. I thank the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for its partnership and vigilance on this matter.”
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Leonid Dakhe, 64, Tatyana Langman, 71, and Sabina Berkovich, 40, all of Coney Island, Brooklyn. They were arraigned yesterday by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael Yavinsky on complaints in which they are charged with multiple counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and one count of second-degree making an apparently sworn false statement. All of the defendants were released without bail. Langman and Berkovich were ordered to return to court on December 18, 2019. Dakhe was ordered to return to court on December 11, 2019.
The District Attorney said that Mitchell-Lama apartments are sold through waiting lists kept by each development. In order to apply for a Mitchell-Lama apartment with an open waiting list, one must contact the managing company of that development and request an application, which, upon approval, is forwarded to the Housing Preservation and Development Corporation for final approval.
Furthermore, Mitchell-Lama rules allow family members of tenants who meet all the requirements and have lived at the home for at least two years to remain as lawful tenants after the tenant of record has vacated the apartment. Those occupancy rights of family members are referred to as succession rights.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between July 16, 2015 and August 26, 2015, defendants Tatyana Langman and Sabina Berkovich submitted false documents, falsely claiming to be mother and daughter, so that Berkovich could allegedly gain succession rights to Langman’s apartment located at 2900 West 8th Street, in Luna Park.
It is alleged that the defendants, acting in concert with each other and others, submitted the following falsified and forged documents: a letter purportedly from Langman falsely stating Berkovich was her daughter and resided with her; a forged birth certificate that falsely indicated that defendant Langman was defendant Berkovich’s mother; a forged marriage certificate related to Berkovich’s marriage that falsely identified Berkovich’s maiden name as Langman and omitted the names of Berkovich’s parents; and additional false documents such as bank records.
Furthermore, it is alleged, that between January 23, 2018 and January 26, 2018, defendant Leonid Dakhe, acting in concert with others, fraudulently obtained succession rights to a Mitchell-Lama apartment in the Luna Park complex located at 2820 West 8th Street, by submitting a succession application that falsely stated he was the brother of the prior tenant, and that he resided in the apartment with the tenant for more than a year. Among the falsified documents allegedly submitted were: a forged birth certificate falsely indicating that the defendant and the prior tenant had the same mother; a TD Bank statement and a Chase Bank statement from 2016 in which the name of the account holder and the account holder’s address were forged or falsified to indicate that the defendant was the account holder and resided at 2820 West 8th Street, and a New York State tax document for tax year 2016 in which the taxpayer’s address was forged or falsified to indicate that at the time of the statement the defendant resided at 2820 West 8th Street.
Today’s arrests stemmed from a long-term investigation that led to the indictment in May 2019 of the President and Treasurer of the co-op’s Board of Directors and the co-op’s Office Manager, for allegedly conspiring to steal and sell the right to purchase apartments at Luna Park between January 1, 2013 and May 6, 2019.
The case was investigated by DOI, specifically Assistant Inspector General Maria Horvat, under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General Michael Antolini, Senior Inspector General Jessica Heegan, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort, with assistance from DOI’s NYPD Squad of Detectives.
The District Attorney thanked KCDA Detective Investigators assigned to the Investigations Bureau for their assistance in this case, as well as KCDA Financial Investigator Ludwig Sanchez, of the Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau; and Investigative Analyst Megan Carroll of the Investigations Division
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Theresa Robitaille, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.
An indictment is merely an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt