By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — The Lower East Side antiques dealer busted for allegedly selling illegal subway signs has enlisted a renowned civil rights attorney to defend him in court.
Billy Leroy, proprietor of the flea market Billy’s Antiques and Props on E. Houston Street, was arrested last month for hawking subway signs he had sold out of his shop for the past decade without incident.
After he was charged for having the allegedly stolen goods, which had sat in plain view in front of his shop for years, lawyer Ron Kuby agreed to take his case — a move that surprised even Leroy.
“He believes that it’s a just cause,” said the longtime Lower East Sider, who's sold all manner of exotica out of his makeshift shop at the corner of Elizabeth Street since the late ’90s. “To be honest with you, I was completely shocked that he took it.”
On March 19, transit police arrested Leroy at his shop and charged him with criminal possession of stolen property as part of an ongoing investigation, police said.
Leroy explained that he purchased them from a subcontractor with the MTA whose job it is to dispose of the signs after installing new ones at various subway stations.
“It’s not like I sent an army of crackheads into the station to remove these signs,” Leroy said after the incident. “The whole thing is ridiculous.”
Leroy, who had no criminal record before the arrest, said he’s been charged with 13 misdemeanors counts and one felony for selling the defunct signs.
“I had a really good idea turning garbage into gold,” he said.
Kuby's law office confirmed his involvement in the case.
Leroy's court date is set for June 16.