19, No. 4
Feb. 23 - Mar. 8, 2006
Dinowitz Says Pinnacle Harasses His Constituents
By HEATHER HADDON
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is speaking out against the
controversial practices of the Pinnacle Group after he discovered the
management company aggressively went after two vulnerable tenants in his
“The stories are just horrible,” said Dinowitz about the incidents, which
involve Riverdale and Norwood residents and properties. “They’re trying to
enrich themselves off of the misery of other people.”
In the first case, Pinnacle served a 90-year-old man with court papers for
back rent due on his Henry Hudson Parkway apartment, according to Terry
Colon, a staffer working on the cases. Colon found that the man had actually
overpaid Pinnacle by more than $1,000. The company failed to acknowledge
that they received funds from the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption
program, which subsidizes the rents of low-income seniors living in
“He was double dipping,” said Dinowitz, referring to Joel Wiener, who heads
Colon is also trying to assist a tenant at 215 E. Gun Hill Road who was hit
by a quick succession of rent increases last year. The hikes were
retroactive charges allowed under the stabilization program, but they aren’t
usually done all at once, according to Colon. The resident has accrued
$4,000 in rent arrears. She is also disabled. “She has to go to court in a
wheelchair,” Colon said.
The irregularities seem to be endemic to Pinnacle buildings. The company has
quickly acquired a slew of properties in low-income city neighborhoods. The
Norwood News has documented in several previous stories that tenants
have been slapped with scores of lawsuits for back rent or trivial residency
disputes. Residents in both Manhattan and the Bronx have charged that they
are the victims of threatening letters, eviction threats and unnecessary
“They are particularly harassing the elderly,” said Earline Nelson-Cody, a
Harlem tenant, during a meeting of Pinnacle tenants last month.
The company has twice been caught by the state for intentionally
overcharging Bronx tenants. Pinnacle issued credits to residents in
buildings on Olinville Avenue, calling it a “clerical error.” That
justification was also used in the Riverdale tenant’s case.
“It became clear to the landlord that it was becoming a public problem for
him,” Dinowitz said.
Colon lives in Kingsbridge Gardens, a former Mitchell Lama building bought
by Pinnacle in 2002. She, too, was overcharged by the company after they
made a number of building-wide improvements in the complex. Colon says she
was supposed to be charged roughly $50 for the repairs, but received a bill
“Their goal is to get as high an increase as possible,” she said.
The Marino Organization, a public relations firm hired by Pinnacle, did not
return calls for comment on the cases.
Dinowitz says his office will continue to monitor Pinnacle and assist
residents. He is considering conducting a mass mailing about the company’s
practices to Pinnacle buildings in the district.
“We’re going to go after him and enforce the law,” he said.
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