(Zero Hedge) The New Yorker hotel is in the middle of a court battle with a man who allegedly filed a phony deed to try and usurp ownership of the entire midtown building, according to the New York Post. A man that wound up staying at the hotel for a year rent free under an obscure legal loophole is sparring with the owners of the hotel after, in June 2018, he stayed at the hotel for one night and then asked for a six-month lease under an obscure section of the city’s rent stabilization laws.
The hotel declined to offer 44 year old Mickey Barreto a lease, but he wound up going to housing court, where a judge ordered the hotel to let him back in. Barreto then convinced clerks at the city department of finance that the paperwork he was issued gave him not only a room, but ownership of the entire building.
He filed a deed on May 28 that lists the building as a “religious structure” and claims that he had purchased it by court order for $189,336,000.
Now, he claims to run “Mickey Barreto Missions” out of the address, has been demanding rent from two restaurant tenants, has tried to take over hotel operations and has attempted to get the building’s bank accounts transferred to him. He even summoned the fire department at one point because of a nonexistent gas leak, trying to get the building evacuated.
He’s requested a $15 million payment from the building’s actual owners and at one wrote on his LinkedIn page:
“I OWN the building where the New Yorker Hotel is located in Manhattan. ALL MINE!!! Please apply here for your section 8 apartment in Manhattan.”
The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, who owns the hotel, fears that “Barreto could take out a lien or mortgage on the building” or sell it to an innocent third party.
The city’s finance department says it gets 40 new deed fraud complaints every month. Meanwhile, a Manhattan supreme court judge called Barreto’s attempt “bizarre” and ruled that it was “abundantly clear” that he was not the owner. The court also ordered him to remove public references to himself as the owner.
Barreto told the Post: “I never committed any fraud.”