JACKSON HEIGHTS — A Queens landlord was charged with endangering the lives of 46 of his tenants — including a dozen children — by renting them illegally converted one- and two-family homes and garages, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Thursday.
A joint investigation by prosecutors, the city Department of Buildings, and the city Department of Investigation found landlord Segundo Chimbay had been putting tenants in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst up in converted houses and garages and charging rents between $850 and $1,400 a month for at least five years.
Prosecutors said the tenants were exposed to a number of dangers on four properties, including fire hazards, illegal construction and unauthorized gas lines. Chimbay had received and ignored a number of vacate orders between 2007 and 2012, prosecutors said.
The Red Cross will provide temporary shelter for the 46 tenants, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the investigation was part of Operation Safe Buildings, a multi-agency initiative to crackdown on dangerous and illegal housing in Queens.
Chimbay, 48, faces charges of first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree reckless endangerment and violation of the city code for failing to comply with an order to vacate.
If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
In addition to the criminal charges, Brown said Chimbay has been named as a respondent in a $1.6 million civil asset forfeiture action for allegedly failing to comply with prior vacate orders and building code violations. The suit was filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney’s Special Proceedings Bureau.
Liens have been placed on the four properties, Brown said.