SUNNYSIDE — Elected officials are calling for authorities to investigate the manager of a condominium for harassing residents — threatening them and monitoring their personal lives, as well as plastering the building's lobby with pro-gun posters, pictures of Hitler and Mussolini and other images they say are offensive.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and State Sen. Michael Gianaris want the state Attorney General's Office to look into Neal Milano, a board member and property manager at the building on 39th Place and 48th Avenue, where they say he's been terrorizing his neighbors.
This includes threatening them with fines or eviction if they do something he doesn't like, residents say, as well as decorating the lobby with a bizarre collage that includes images of infamous dictators, a swastika, a bloodied soldier, a Jim Crow-like caricature of a black man, men holding guns and posters supporting President Donald Trump.
"It's just awful. I actually — I've stopped inviting people over to my home," said one resident, who declined to give her name for fear of invoking Milano's wrath. "It's extremely unwelcoming."
Some of the images of guns posted in the lobby of the building on 39th Place. (Credit: Jimmy Van Bramer's Office)
Milano did not answer the door to his apartment when a reporter knocked on Wednesday, and neighbors say he's out of town. His lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but told the New York Post that the images in the lobby are meant to be a historical display.
Some of the decorations are innocuous: an American flag painting with the silhouette of the Twin Towers, for example, or posters of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mount Rushmore.
But more controversial images include infamous gangster Al Capone holding a baseball bat, several pictures of guns and an NRA sticker. A banner on one wall shows the different world leaders involved in WWII, including Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill but also Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini and a picture of Adolf Hitler doing a Nazi salute alongside a swastika.
A directory posted near the building's front door lists the names of fake "tenants" like R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg, plus notorious Nazis Josef Mengele and Rudolf Hess. Neighbors said Milano has also slapped Trump stickers on their doors without permission.
But more disturbing, they say, is his history of monitoring his neighbors' private lives via the building's security cameras. They say Milano has sent letters to everyone in the building — a mix of both renters and condo owners — in which he publicly accused residents by name of various misdeeds, including failing to properly dispose of their recycling or having a boyfriend or girlfriend stay over.
"It's creepy and disturbing," said the neighbor who declined to give her name. "My right to privacy and my right to peace in my own home is being violated. It's terrible."
Some of these letters, viewed by a DNAinfo New York reporter, did not include Milano's name but were signed by the building's "board of managers," though residents and elected officials say he appears to be the building's only known board member.
A World War II display on the building's first floor includes pictures of Hitler and Mussolini. (Credit: DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly)
One such letter referred to a specific resident as a "vile, despicable animal" and stated that tenants have to pay a $100 "mandatory fee" to have a guest stay over for even just a day. Milano threatens people with fines or eviction if they break his rules or complain, neighbors said.
"You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells that this one guy is going to turn against you. It's ridiculous," said another resident, who also asked that her name not be published for fear of retaliation.
Van Bramer and Gianaris held a press conference outside the condo building Wednesday and asked State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Milano for his intimidating behavior.
"These tenants are living in terror," Van Bramer said in a statement. "After seeing this lobby first-hand and spending several days with these tenants, I can say without a doubt that they are rightly terrified of a property manager who posts images of hate and racism, boasts of guns in his apartment while hanging posters celebrating guns and the NRA, and who retaliates against anyone who speaks out."
Schneiderman's office said it will look into any complaints his office receives.
"We’re troubled by these reports and will review any complaints of harassment made by residents of the building," a spokeswoman said.