December 1, 2016 / Brooklyn news / Landlords in the Crosshairs
✔ Poll

Critics: No-prison deal for slumlord Israel brothers is ‘slap on the wrist’

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Notorious Brooklyn slumlord siblings Joel and Amrom Israel will not serve any time in prison after admitting they trashed rent-stabilized apartments to force their low-income tenants out, the district attorney announced on Tuesday — outraging the lawyer for one victim who says the duo got a “slap on the wrist” just because they’re white real estate moguls.

“We’re very disappointed, if they were low-income people of color they would be going to jail,” said Judith Goldiner, head attorney at the Legal Aid Society. “The Israels are the worst kind of people and the idea that they will receive no jail time is appalling.”

As part of plea deal with District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, they ’fessed up to a scheme of making life miserable for residents from eight rent-stabilized units across five of their 10 buildings in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick between 2010 and 2014, in an effort to force the denizens out and jack up the rent to market rates.

The brothers’ tactics included demolishing kitchens and bathrooms, hiring goons to smash up apartments, recruiting intimidating “security guards” to wander the halls with pit bulls and baseball bats, and, in one case, building a wall to block a man’s front door, they admitted.

As punishment, the pair have to cough up roughly $248,000 in restitution — with each victim receiving between $12,000 and $68,000.

They must also set up a $100,000 fund to cover expenses tenants incurred from the harassment, perform 500 hours of community service, and will be on probation for five years.

The criminal conviction is the first from a special tenant-harassment task-force city and state authorities set up in 2015, promising to bring the “full force of the law” down on bad landlords, and the borough’s top attorney said he thinks the result sends a strong message.

“Landlords across Brooklyn should be put on notice by today’s felony guilty pleas that illegal actions they may take to harass and intimidate tenants in rent regulated apartments will not go unpunished,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

But without prison time, Goldiner thinks the penalty just tells other slumlords that they can abuse their tenants for a fee.

“If you get caught, the cost of doing business is a slap on the wrist,” she said.

And Borough President Adams — who ran a campaign help other low-income residents bring criminal charges against their own crappy landlords after authorities arrested the Israels in 2015 — agrees.

“We’re not sending the right message throughout the city as shameless landlords are robbing people of their decency,” said the Beep, a former police officer. “We need to explore tougher penalties.”

The district attorney’s office refused to comment on the criticism.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

Reader poll

Did the punishment fit the crime?

Updated 9:12 pm, February 2, 2017: Updated with comments from the DA.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Dec. 1, 2016, 9:45 am
Bkmanhatman from Nubrucklyn says:
Well at least they have a record and that being said, I hope the tennants remained steadfast and stayed in the buildings.
That being said, have Israel brothers also made the necessary repairs to the units?
Dec. 1, 2016, 11:41 am
broklyn from bushwick says:
the Israels are nice people, they admitted and will now learn for next time!
Dec. 1, 2016, 11:53 am
discontented rent stabilized tenant from Crown Heights says:
The Crown Heights Tenants Union was created as a result of just such activities, a result of fast gentrification in the neighborhood! those who've endured less than pleasant times in the communities are now subject to harassment and displacement tactics on a daily basis. The most recent in the mix Akelius, relatively new owners of Crown Heights buildings including 805 St Marks Avenue, 200 unit building in the heart of North Crown Heights!! Long time tenants are fighting daily to maintain!!
Dec. 1, 2016, 12:14 pm
bunny from midwood says:
Landlords like this should be highly fined, have to give back rent to tenant, and also be punished for taking away the tenants rights, such as blocking their entrance to their abodes, and threatening them with pit bulls and big security guards. They buy the properties under the auspices of giving low rent and as soon as they can, they try and jump up the rents. The city should check out all of their properties and investigate if others in their buildings are in the same situation.
Dec. 1, 2016, 1:16 pm
I rememember Judge Ira Harkavy from Brooklyn says:
They should be forced to live in the building where they committed the crimes against the tenants. A sign, "Welcome You Reptiles," should greet them in the lobby.
Dec. 1, 2016, 6:28 pm
Tzvi Mandelbaum from Fort Greene says:
Eric Gonzalez whoring himself out for the Hasidic vote already; nice work, schmuck! As if Jews are so stupid as to condone what the Israels have done or that you're transparently opportunistic act of "charity" will actually be rewarded. Have you no shame?
Dec. 1, 2016, 8:24 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
The plea deal is actually pretty tough on these slumlords. Jail time would have been appropriate, as their behavior was similar to criminal assualt and menacing.
Dec. 2, 2016, 11:30 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I feel that slumlords like them should be arrested, because with their income, a fine will feel like a slap on the wrist and without proper enforcement, they will just do the same things again knowing what the punishment is.
Dec. 3, 2016, 3:49 pm
Alan Sheketovits from UES says:
Oy gevalt!
Dec. 3, 2016, 8:40 pm
Mr. Smith from Brooklyn says:
It's a free country don't like the place you live? Move!
Dec. 4, 2016, 8:23 am
Joe from Brooklyn says:
Voting as a independent mind
Dec. 4, 2016, 8:58 am
Charles from Prospect Hights says:
I think this punishment is harsh and they, and other slum lords, will definitely learn. With probation and a record they can't do any business and can't get a mortgage . Although some people receive harsher punishments, it's there where the system is broken.
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:08 am
John from Brighton Beach says:
When tenants dont pay rent or litter buuldings, do they get prosecuted?
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:12 am
Jackie from Brooklyn says:
They got enough why put them in jail
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:20 am
Joel from Brooklyn says:
The landlords received a harsh punishment. Come on, this is no slap on the wrist! They got a cocktail of harsh punishments.

A quater of a million dollar fine!
$100,000 escrow!
5 years probation!
500 hours of community work.....!

So they're not going to jail..... look at what legal stuff they're dealing with. Justice was served entirely.
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:29 am
Zalmy from Brooklyn says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:36 am
Bob grant from Williamsburg says:
Of course justice was served. What would you bums haters want to see? Go to jail and cost the tax payers this half million dollars? ?? They don't deserve our tax dollars to be spent at them..
They had to pay up and give back. Isn't that punishment and justice?
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:39 am
Gill Hoffman from Manhattan says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:42 am
Jason from Brooklyn says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:43 am
Jack from Brooklyn says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:47 am
Joe green from Monsey says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:50 am
Brooklyn from King's says:
No jail
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:53 am
Shraga Stein from Monroe NY says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:55 am
Joe from Brooklyn says:
I think they got their punishment, y put them in jail.
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:56 am
Mayer hauser from Monroe says:
There's No Reason For Jail. he deserves life. "YES"
Dec. 4, 2016, 10 am
Joe from Boro park says:
They good people and made a mistake, they sad that are sorry and they paying the price, no jail needed what so ever
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:09 am
Sara from Brooklyn says:
they got their punishment
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:10 am
Joe from Boro park says:
The only people that say to put them in jail is the same guys that are protesting against trump, u don't like the outcome from the verdict "move out of amarica"
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:12 am
Ely from Bushwick says:
They will for sure learn their lesson
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:26 am
Jose from Brooklyn says:
Yes. Because No reason for a harsh punishment.
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:31 am
Saner from Brooklyn ' says:
Yes. Because No reason for a harsh punishment.
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:33 am
Leon from Bushwick says:
No point of any harder punishment they've learned their lesson for good
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:40 am
Barry from Clarkstown says:
I believe the monetary punishment and probation serves them well. No need to sit in prison. They've learned their lesson and others will as well.
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:46 am
Max from From Bushwick says:
The monetary punishment along the community service of 500 hours is the appropriate punishment when they admitted their guit and cured all their violations. Those who feel the slammer is the solution should look themselves in the mirror and what is in the best interest of society either pay for another two inmates or to cure the violation with hefty fines
Dec. 4, 2016, 10:58 am
Moshe stein from Monroe says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 11:16 am
Tony Gonzales from Sheepshead Bay says:
Eric was elected because he was going to reform the justice department, cleaning the jail time is not always the solution, Adam I think this is brilliant, especially the fact that each victim receiving cash
Dec. 4, 2016, 11:19 am
Chaya Gourarie from Iowa says:
America's Justce system needs a huge overhaul!!
I do not think prison is a place for non violent people!!!
Anyone that promotes prison does "know" it's ramifications and the COST the Prison system has on society!!!
People make mistakes.
They are paying for their mistakes!
Dec. 4, 2016, 11:37 am
Ari weiser from Montreal says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 11:52 am
jack s from brooklyn says:
The justice system has finally thought through the magnitude of the crime and punished accordingly. Enough with throwing people into jail for crimes that can be reimbursed with money. They are no murderers and are truly and deeply sorry for what they committed. I have known them personally for many years. NO jail time for them!!!
Dec. 4, 2016, 12:09 pm
Jeff Rodriguez from Midwood says:
For those who followed the case closely know that all was blown out of proportion

The tenants were offered compensation for the time of construction and refused hoping they'll be able to extort large rewards from the landlords
Dec. 4, 2016, 12:10 pm
Adam from Brooklyn says:
Why put them in jail??

Justice was done, Justice in not by locking up ppl,
if this wont work then you are left with no option, other then putting into jail!

Do you know what we TAXPAYERS pay for all ppl locked up????

Dec. 4, 2016, 12:13 pm
Anonymos from Bronx says:
Maybe they made s mistake but pl picture yourself losing money everymonth on these apartments and btw most of these kind of houses r in rundown because their landlords are losing money ,i am not a landlord i am a renter snd still feel that way maybe there should be better laws for renters but not absurd laws fir rent control if market value is for example 1000k u pay 56$ rend this is insain
Dec. 4, 2016, 12:15 pm
isaac from brooklyn says:
Don't we all ask God when or if we do something wrong he should forgive us and give us a second chance?
They are suffering enough and not going to jail doesn't mean that they are done with this case, there is still a long road that have to walk down
Please NO JAIL.!!!!!
Dec. 4, 2016, 12:25 pm
Joe from Brooklyn says:
I have known both of them for years. Very wonderful and sweet people..they would do anything for a other person.. i think this is a very harsh punishment..i dont think they deserve it...people make mistakes... this was way overblown in the beginning. by the politicians to show their constituents that they are doing something for them...why dont u lock up the city officials?? Did you ever check out how the public housing look like? Or the abuse people go trough at the social program office's (food stamps, medicate etc ) provided by this great government?? The bias and hypocrisy is unbelievable...the wqy they smeared those israels in the news ..the negativity puting them down like the worst people in the was more then enough of a punishment for them.
Dec. 4, 2016, 12:45 pm
Joseph Moskowitz from Brooklyn NY says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 1:12 pm
laquisha from bed stuy says:
first put behind bars all public housing officials who don't give no heat in the winter
Dec. 4, 2016, 1:25 pm
Martin from London says:
Stupid can system chucking people into Jail all the time. the incarceration rate of the United States of America is highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners. Taken from Wikipedia
Dec. 4, 2016, 2 pm
Mark Twain from Flushing N.y says:
Dec. 4, 2016, 2:42 pm
Denese from Park Slope says:
Do we ever hear anyone complaining about tenants not paying rent...or tenants damaging their apartments to avoid eviction...?
Why isn't anyone ever complaining about them?
True, two wrongs don't make a right!
But if tenants would not rig the system and pay rent on time without looking for loopholes, then maybe all these so called slum-lords would act like humans too...Maybe they wouldn't be so tight in cash and not commit such outrageous acts to net some profit!
Dec. 4, 2016, 2:53 pm
Jason from Rock says:
Rock I don't think for second that the landlord did this damage this was done by the tenants I can promise you that because they wanted to get out of paying your rent a lot of people do that some people get away with some people actually win we live in a wold that innocent good people paid the price all the time it's not fear but this is how it works now so So I'm asking if anyone has a heart please go out and protest against those animals the government knows very good the that does landlords are innocent but because they're Jewish hateful hate crimes happens all the time for Jewish people are Jewish guy tries to make some money the government will always killed them. If this will be the other kind of like a Muslim like a Christian any Does tenants will be arrested and prosecuted. but because he's a Jew the landlord he's guilty ugly disgusting government there are the biggest races
Dec. 4, 2016, 4:29 pm
Jimmy from Brooklyn says:
People are people
Dec. 4, 2016, 8:43 pm
Jack from Brooklyn says:
Jail Is not always the solution!

They suffered to much already, and they are still suffering!!!
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:06 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Just imagine if they were black.
Black landlords, get it? LOL
Dec. 4, 2016, 9:23 pm
Moishe Stein from Boro Park says:
Put these bums in jail. Their 'convictions' won't matter if they within the Hasdic comminity, who for the most part don't participate and / or abuse the legal U.S. tax paying economy...

And don't even PRETEND otherwise. We all know the truth and the many indulgences granted.
Dec. 18, 2016, 12:54 am
Truth from Brooklyn says:
Life in prison would have been just. You are out of your mind to think even 1 year in jail would have been enough. There is hard proof here of criminal menacing, multiple attempted murders, willful and intentional disregard of life.Sure NyC is "Tough on crime" , until it comes to the real, white collar criminals. Until one of these guys goes to prison for life for recklessly endangering the lives of tenants, this will continue and lives will be lost. This guy probably made money on this despite the finds. A fair result would have been the City seizing the property and putting all of these guys in prison for life. As of now he practically got a reward. Expect this to just get worse if this is the best the city can do. The guy made money even counting the fines! He gets to keep the building! He doesnt see even a day inside jail! This guy should never be outside of a yorange jumpsuit again and is a danger to society. Absolutely shameful for the city.
July 1, 2017, 8:54 pm
Truth from Brooklyn says:
Denial of heat during winter should be punished by 6 months in jail for each day without heat. Failure to provide heat for an entire winter should be life in prison without the possibility of parole. You'd suddenly see a lot more heat in the City, I'd wager. Until then, landlords will cut the heat when they want tenants to leave, because the City is basically condoning their behavior by not imprisoning them and forcing tenants to bring civil lawsuits to enforce the law on the city's behalf. What a joke.
July 1, 2017, 8:57 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!