Saturday, December 29, 2007

C-I-L-L My Landlord

Just a quick (and overdue) follow-up post on my lawsuit with my ex-landlord...

To eliminate all suspense, let me just say, I won.

Now, let me add all the weird stuff.

At some point, after my judgement was awarded - after it became overwhelmingly clear that he wasn't going to pay (notice of his lawsuit against me was a small tip off), I took my award to the City Marshall. With the help of the current tenant, I had discovered where the sleezebag in question was cashing his rent checks.

It took some time for the City Marshall to get the court to issue an order allowing her to seize his assets on my behalf. And during this waiting time I'd call up and ask some variant of the question "what is the hold up here, people?!?" So one day, I'm hanging out on hold with the snippy clerk at the city marshall's office, and I decide to google the SEL (that's Sleezeball Ex-Landlord). Now, beats me why I decided to do this. I'd googled him before. But this time, here's what pops up:

A press release about his arrest.

I love the internet. It takes me all of about 14 minutes to locate the full details of his crime, to read his attorney's letter to the judge pleading for leniency, to learn that he's got a trial coming up.

The scoop: it turns out the SEL was involved in gang related activity. He committed eight counts of identity fraud -- which I think means that he made fake passports on a home computer -- for an Eastern European gang dealing in stolen cars, drugs and - get this - a violin.

had this to say about my SEL's crew
The police and feds busted a crew of Eastern European criminals yesterday who operated out of Brooklyn. The
Daily News calls them "Stringfellas" because one of their schemes was to sell a stolen Stradivarius violin and "then rob the buyer." That would be an ambitious but classic (no pun intended) cycle of crime: Claim to sell stuff only to pocket the cash and then take the object back for another "sale" - we just like that coveted musical instruments would have been used in the deals. The feds had been watching the gang, which dabbled in extortion, drugs and weapons trafficking as wells as stolen IDs, for over a year. The Brooklyn US Attorney said, "No effort will be spared to ensure that criminal groups like the Greenpoint crew do not gain a foothold in our communities." But there may have been someone in the NYPD who helped the gang (many gang members hung out at the Europa Club, which is near the 94th Precinct).

From the letter to judge from his attorney:

You see, the demon alcohol made him do it.

So, here's what happened: he pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 and sentenced to serve 5 months at Ft. Dix. After release, he'll have 5 months of house arrest and then he'll have 3 years of probation. He's not allowed to own a gun. On January 7, 2008 at 2pm he must report to prison.

I learn all this, and then a few weeks later, I get the check in the mail from the City Marshall. Not only did I get the award in full - plus fees -- but there was interest. About $200 more than I expected. And then, a few days later, I meet the SEL in court for his suit against me. I'm amazed - he's on time, alone, and has not a shred of a case to support his claim. The arbitrator asks "Do you have pictures or anything?" and the SEL replies: "Oh, yeah, I had pictures, but they were on the know." The arbitrator replies dryly "Oh, I know." At one point, the arbitrator asks me "Wait - to clarify - did you get your deposit back?" I reply "Actually, yes, with the help of the City Marshall. I got it a few days ago." The arbitrator looks surprised. He says "Really? How does that work? Did you have to pay the City Marshall? I've never met anyone who was actually able to get their deposit back."

It didn't seem necessary to bring up the criminal record. A week later, I had the verdict: I won.

While there was, in my case, no reason to resort to violence, I do, nonetheless, given all the delay and frustration of this whole process, empathize with the sentiments of that classic Eddie Murphy poem:

Dark and lonely on a summer's night.
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
See a doggie. Do he bite?
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
Slip in his window. Break his neck.
Got no reason. What the heck?
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
C-I-L-L my land lord!

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