Three Coney Islanders cuffed in affordable 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 three Coney Island residents on Wednesday for allegedly scamming their way into cheap apartments at a highly sought-after Coney Island cooperative.

The suspects submitted forged letters, birth and marriage certificates, and bank records to fool officials at the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development into believing they were relatives of previous tenants at the Luna Park Housing Cooperative, allowing them to “inherit” their units and skip the decades-long waitlist for housing at the coveted Mitchell-Lama, according to District Attorney Eric Gonzelez.

The arrests come four months after police cuffed three board members at the Luna Park Housing Corporation — the body which manages the sprawling, five-story complex housing 6,000 people — for spearheading the scheme. Those defendants were accused of helping applicants forge documents to obtain the coveted apartments in exchange for steep bribes totaling $874,000, which the women allegedly spent on luxury goods.

On Thursday, Gonzalez slammed the three defendants for the scam that ultimately robbed deserving low-income families of affordable housing, claiming some applicants have been waiting for an apartment at the Mitchell-Lama since the early 90s.

“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,” he said.

Two of the defendants — age 40 and 71 — allegedly conspired to illegally transfer an apartment by providing a fake letter, marriage and birth certificates, and bank records between 2015 and 2016 to prove that the 71-year-old tenant was the mother of the younger suspect.

The third defendant, 64, provided similar fake documentation to prove that he had resided in another unit for over a year and that he was the brother of the apartment’s previous tenant.

On Oct. 16, Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael Yavinsky arraigned the suspects and charged them 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. The defendants were released on bail, and will return to court in December.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams