Man cuffed for allegedly taking bribes in Coney Island housing scheme

Three Coney Islanders cuffed in affordable housing scheme
Authorities arrested a man for alleged taking money from women who hoped to bypass the waitlist for affordable Mitchell-Lama apartments.
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Cops cuffed a Coney Island man on Tuesday for allegedly taking $74,000 from women who hoped to scam their way into a coveted affordable housing complex — only to keep the money and never follow through on his end of the bargain. 

The three victims allegedly paid the 63-year-old defendant, who promised that he could help them skip the decades-long waitlist for the Mitchell-Lama apartments and buy the discounted units — but the suspect, a resident of the housing compound himself, had no connection to the complex’s management or control over the waitlist, the District Attorney’s office said. 

Gonzalez blasted the accused scammer after he was arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a host of fraud-related charges, saying affordable housing processes must be protected from extortion.

“We will not allow opportunists and scammers to corrupt the process by which eligible prospective tenants gain access to reasonably priced housing,” he said.   

The defendant, who lives in the Amalgamated Warbasse Houses on W. Fifth Street, allegedly met one of the victims through a mutual friend sometime between October 2015 and March 2016, according to the investigation. 

The man later told the victim and two of her friends that he could help each of them buy apartments in the complex if they paid him $15,000 each, the complaint alleges. 

After receiving the payments, the defendant allegedly requested more cash from two of the victims — and reportedly received $25,000 from one victim and $4,000 from the other. 

The defendant said the apartments would become available between six and 12 months, but never followed up on the promise and refused to return the cash, according to Gonzalez.

This is just the most recent in a long series of scandals that have ensured the coveted housing complex, however.

In June, police busted three officials with the Luna Park Housing Cooperative — the body that manages the housing development — for allegedly helping applicants forge documents to obtain the affordable apartments in exchange for $874,000 in bribes.

Four months after that, cops cuffed three other Coney Islanders for forging documents to prove they were related to the units’ previous owners, allowing them to illegally “inherit” the apartments.

A grand jury indicted the most recently accused Mitchell-Lama-connected scammer on ten counts of grand larceny, and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. He was released without bail, and ordered to return to court in March.