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Landlords Use Abusive Super in Bid to Boot Out Rent-Reg Tenants, Suits Say

By Gwynne Hogan | January 16, 2017 1:18pm
 Superintendent Peter Minic has been harassing tenants, court documents allege.
Superintendent Peter Minic has been harassing tenants, court documents allege.
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Courtesy of Jared Fischer

BUSHWICK — A Brooklyn superintendent is waging a campaign of intimidation and sexual harassment on the tenants of two buildings, telling residents that the neighborhood used to be a "n--ger area" and the landlord now wants "upper crust whites," according to two lawsuits.

The building handyman, Peter Minic, who is identified as Peter Doe in court papers, told one female tenant that he would like to "take [her] and give her a good f---k," threatened to move a drug dealer into an empty apartment to beat up another resident and offered repeated buyout offers despite renters' insistence they want to stay in their homes, according to sworn statements from multiple tenants.

And the landlords, brothers Graham and Gregory Jones of GRJ LLC and Dallien Realty, who explained to The New York Times that they built their real estate empire by buying up buildings and getting rid of rent-regulated tenants, stand by Minic after four months of tenant complaints, warning letters from lawyers and two lawsuits.

Mildred Garcia, 40, who has lived at 1075 Greene Ave. since she was an infant, said the Jones brothers are using the super to muscle them out of the building.

"They'll get [Minic] to harass everybody, make them feel so uncomfortable, they don't want to stay here," she said. "They don't care at what cost."

They want to take, "any little dignity that anybody has left," she said.

Garcia along with 21 other tenants who live in 1075 Greene Ave. and 920 Bushwick Ave. sued owner Graham Jones in December for tenant harassment and have demanded that the super be fired.

Beyond the harassment allegations in those two buildings, a group of disabled tenants in a third Jones brothers building at 946 Bushwick Ave. recently sued in federal court to keep them from cutting off the building's only elevator during repairs that could last for up to six months.

►READ MORE ABOUT DISABLED TENANTS AT 946 BUSHWICK AVE.

The brothers — who described a "track record" of purchasing old buildings and selling them for millions more a few short years later on their website — made their foray into Bushwick real estate last August, when they bought the three rent-stabilized buildings with about 100 apartments for a combined $27.5 million, property records show.

About a week after the purchases, Minic unleashed a campaign of verbal and sexual harassment on several tenants, according to court affidavits.

He called Garcia a "f--king b--ch" and accused her of lying about having an air conditioner.

Several weeks later he accosted her as she returned to her apartment from a day spent gardening, she recalled.

"You look hot and sexy all sweaty like that," he told Garcia one hot September afternoon, according to her court affidavit. "I'd like to take you and give you a good f--k."

Minic also nagged tenants to consider buyouts despite their insistence they wanted to stay in their homes, according to the two Brooklyn Housing suits filed in December.

He's cursed out tenants for calling 311 to report issues to the city's Department of Housing and Preservation, and referred to agency workers as "communists" on several occasions, according to court statements.

Minic told one tenant he reviewed security footage inside the building "like crazy" to find a reason to kick out "young thug guys, Black, Spanish guys."

Jared Fischer, 35, who moved into the Greene Avenue property in 2015, said that Minic told him that the landlord was trying to rid the building of "the Spanish people" and "the poor people not paying nothing," according to his court affidavit.

The landlords were looking to "f--k" the tenants and were "like gods," while tenants "are just animals," Minic said before pushing Fischer, he said.

Fischer recalled the super telling him "It's just business, man. Bushwick is hot. We want to move in the upper crust whites, the tenants who can pay more...Bushwick used to be a ni--er area."

Minic, who tenants only know as Peter, did not respond to multiple phone calls requesting comment. 

Garcia said she no longer feels safe in her own building.

"If I see him coming, I try to leave the hallway as soon as possible...I don't even want him near me,” she said. "I don't feel comfortable walking into my hallway, I don't feel comfortable walking near him. I don't feel comfortable being in an area where he's in."

Despite tenant complaints going back to August, the landlords defend Minic, while admitting he was "rough around the edges."

Caitrin Coccoma, a lawyer with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, said that when she alerted the landlord about tenant harassment in September, Jones defended the super.

"I'm not going to bring on someone else to do the repair work when Peter is more qualified," Jones wrote back on Oct. 3.

When asked Friday about the slew of accusations detailed in two housing court allegations, Jones called them "categorically false."

"I have not seen any evidence that would lead me to believe that,” he said. "There’s 105 units across all three buildings, this is not the entire building that’s against me and the super here.”

Despite the challenges, many residents say they are committed to staying in their apartments.

“This is my home, this has been my home for many years," Garcia said. 

“I’m not planning to go anywhere. They’re going to have to dig a grave for me if they want me to go anywhere, cause that’s the only way I’m going.”

Tenants are due in court on Feb. 14, court records show. 

Read the documents for yourself here.

Lawsuit at 1075 Greene Ave. by DNAinfoNewYork on Scribd

Lawsuit at 946 Bushwick Ave. by DNAinfoNewYork on Scribd