Vol. 15, No. 16      August 15 - 28, 2002



     
 

Landlord Stole Money Meant for Poor Tenants

By WILLIAM WICHERT  and  JORDAN MOSS

The landlord of the building where Jashawn Parker lost his life is now serving a three- year sentence of probation for stealing money from a government program that provides rent money to poor tenants.

According to court documents obtained by the Norwood News, Eric Gladstein of Quest Property Management IV Corp. was indicted in April 2001 for working with Deborah Pollock and Marla Lopez of Community Law Advocates, Inc. (CLA) to steal over $300,000 in welfare housing funds from the city's Human Resources Administration (HRA). Pollock, then an executive deputy commissioner-designate of HRA (she was never fully appointed but served in the position until June 2000), used her position at CLA, a non-profit group she formed in 1998 on behalf of struggling tenants, to squeeze funds from a state program that assisted welfare recipients who could not pay their rent.

With her influence at HRA, Pollock and her associates at Palazzolo Investment Group, a collection of Bronx landlords including Gladstein, took advantage of the aid available through the Jiggetts relief program. While tenants facing eviction charges by their landlords may qualify for Jiggetts relief, Pollock and CLA presented relief applications containing false eviction suits to the Rental Assistance Unit of HRA. The tenants were not being evicted, but their landlords were cashing in on their names.

Between October of 1998 and December of 2000, CLA submitted at least 66 false applications, each of which was worth thousands of dollars. Pollock and Lopez would file applications with HRA on behalf of tenants in buildings owned by either Pollock herself or the other landlords in the Palazzolo Investment Group.

In September 1999, Gladstein "directed that fictional index numbers be placed on documents purporting to be Bronx Housing Court pleadings" as proof that eviction suits had been initiated against tenants in his buildings, according to court documents. Then he arranged for Pollock to be paid t10 percent of the Jiggetts relief payments that he directly received.

Gladstein ultimately pled guilty in January 2002 to charges of petty larceny. He paid $40,851 in restitution and began a three-year probation sentence on March 22, said Brad Maione, a spokesman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, one of the officials who sought the indictment.

Pollock is awaiting sentencing on numerous charges of grand larceny, conspiracy in the fourth degree, and defrauding the government, among others. She is also facing a separate indictment on charges of tax evasion for 1998 and 1999, during which time she did not report income earned from CLA, her real estate corporations, and payments received from the landlords.

"This was as cynical a crime as you could possibly imagine," Spitzer said in a press release issued on April 3, 2001. "At the very time Pollock was supposed to be helping the poor with their housing problems, she was using her positions with the city and her non-profit group to abuse the system, steal from taxpayers and line her pockets and those of her partners. Tenants were being used, without their knowledge, as pawns in the fraudulent scheme."

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