FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 29, 2022
Brooklyn Real Estate Broker Indicted for
Multiple Rental Apartment and PPE Frauds
Defendant Allegedly Stole over $100,000 Meant for Security Deposits and
Critical Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn real estate broker has been indicted for stealing a total of $103,021 in a succession of schemes first involving persons looking to rent apartments and then by defrauding medical distribution companies by falsely offering to supply them with personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly stole more than one hundred thousand dollars, taking advantage of people seeking housing in Brooklyn and then, after the onset of the pandemic, exploiting shortages of essential personal protective equipment by falsely soliciting and offering supplies to medical distribution companies. He allegedly stole not only money, but wasted valuable time and resources needed to protect essential workers in a time of unprecedented crisis. We will now seek to hold him accountable for his alleged crimes.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Michael Kapelow, 33, of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn State Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny, six counts of third-degree grand larceny, two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud and four counts of second-degree possession of a forged instrument. Kapelow was released without bail and ordered to return to court on May 31, 2022.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, from December 2019 to February 2020, the defendant, a licensed real estate salesperson who listed properties in Brighton Beach, stole $21,225 in security deposits and advance rental payments from two couples who were trying to rent an apartment at 380 Neptune Avenue, as well as $5,990 from another person seeking to rent an apartment at 40 Shore Boulevard. In each case, the defendant allegedly told the victims he would forward the funds to the building’s landlord or management company, only to deposit the money in his own bank account.
Just months into the pandemic, it is alleged that from June 2020 through December 2020, the defendant stole a total of $69,556 from three medical distribution companies that he had promised to supply with PPE. In each case, the defendant allegedly lied and claimed to own – or have access to – hundreds of boxes of medical gloves. However, according to the investigation, the PPE was non-existent and the defendant allegedly had no intention of providing the critical commodity. In one case, according to the investigation, the owner of one of the companies became suspicious of the defendant’s repeated delays in providing PPE and went to the location where he told her his warehouse was located. Upon arriving at the address, the owner found only an abandoned dance studio. The defendant is also alleged, during this period, to have scammed an investor out of $6,250 after promising to partner on a PPE sale and split the profits.
According to the investigation, it is alleged that none of the victims in either the rental apartment or PPE frauds ever received their money back despite repeated and urgent requests. The defendant was allegedly able to string along the victims through various excuses and evasions, including by claiming he had suffered a family or medical emergency. In reality, according to the investigation, the defendant withdrew most of the money in cash or spent it at various casinos in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – often within one or two days of receiving it.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this defendant is asked to call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Brian Connor of the District Attorney’s Fraud Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gregory Pavlides, Chief of the Frauds Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.