New York City Man Arrested for Filing False Property Records in Landmark Hotel Case

In a surprising turn of events, Mickey Barreto, a New York City man, was arrested on Wednesday for filing false property records in a long-standing legal battle involving the iconic New Yorker Hotel. Barreto, who had managed to live rent-free in the hotel for five years by exploiting a local housing law, now faces charges of fraud and criminal contempt.

The legal saga began when Barreto and his boyfriend paid a mere $200 to rent a room in the towering Art Deco structure built in 1930. Discovering a loophole that allowed occupants of single rooms in pre-1969 buildings to demand a six-month lease, Barreto claimed tenancy rights and requested a lease from the hotel. However, instead of granting his request, the hotel promptly evicted him.

Undeterred, Barreto took the matter to court, where he won an appeal in the state Supreme Court. The judge ordered the hotel to provide Barreto with a key, effectively granting him “possession” of his room. Barreto then lived in the hotel without paying any rent until July 2023, as the building’s owners refused to negotiate a lease with him.

However, prosecutors allege that Barreto went beyond his granted possession and attempted to claim ownership of the entire New Yorker Hotel. In 2019, he uploaded a fake deed to a city website, falsely transferring ownership from the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, the actual owner of the property. Barreto further attempted to charge rent to one of the hotel’s tenants, registered the hotel under his name with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for water and sewage payments, and demanded the hotel’s bank transfer its accounts to him.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg stated, “As alleged, Mickey Barreto repeatedly and fraudulently claimed ownership of one of the City’s most iconic landmarks, the New Yorker Hotel.” The Unification Church, founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, filed a civil case against Barreto in 2019, contesting his false ownership claims. A judge ruled that Barreto cannot portray himself as the owner during the ongoing civil case.

Barreto, who considers his actions as activism aimed at denying profits to the Unification Church, maintains that he never intended to commit fraud. He argues that the judge’s grant of “possession” indirectly gave him ownership of the entire building since it had never been subdivided.

Author: CrimeDoor

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