By Joseph Turco, Esq.
Let’s gather what we know about the ever-sinking fortunes of the ‘Bernie Madoff of Landlords,’ Steve Croman.
1. In May 2016, just as his despicable son Jake went viral after calling an Uber driver “a minimum wage faggot,” little Jake’s dad, Steve Croman, was indicted on 20 felonies for lying on financial documents submitted to banks in order to secure millions in fraudulent loans. That case ended this summer with Croman accepting a plea bargain allowing him to serve one year in jail and pay a $5 million fine. The final sentencing, where the judge, Jill Konviser, is likely to accept the deal, is scheduled for September 2017.
2. The New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, gets to have another shot at Croman in civil court. In this case, Croman and the steroid-fueled Anthony Falconite are being sued by the State of New York on behalf of all victimized tenants who were abused in surreal and Dickensian ways. They suffered through late night threats, vermin, bullying, litigation, lying, and destruction of property. As the case nears trial, we now learn that Croman has lost his famed lawyer, Ben Brafman. This was reportedly due to Croman’s failure to pay in full Brafman’s rumored million-dollar fee. According to court filings, Croman is now representing himself. That ought to be fun to watch.
3. Croman’s business partner, a man named Jacobson (who has his own sordid history), has sued Croman to stop Croman’s father from taking over control of daily operations while Croman slices garlic with a razor blade at Riker’s. We can only conclude that Jacobson thinks the apple does not fall far from the tree in the Croman family and that the grandfather, who spawned both Steve and Jake, is probably the worst of them all.
4. Summer is not quite what it used to be for Steve Croman. The invitations have stopped arriving and his fair-weather friends have abandoned him. No more themed parties or Ariana Grande concerts in his backyard. Croman is being evicted by his one-time Hamptons buddy, Kenneth Fishel, who had leased luxurious NoHo office space to the Croman company. (Croman reportedly defrauded and stiffed him on rent.) According to court documents, Fishel has received a warrant of eviction against Croman, whose days of riding the meticulously restored birdcage elevators in the marbled and tiled lobby of 632 Broadway are over. Needless to say, that is classic irony.
We will continue to track these developments. However, the case which will clearly have the most impact is the tenant’s case pursued by Schneiderman because damage and injury was suffered by many people. When all is said and done, the restitution and compensation awarded in this case could potentially bankrupt Croman. And we can think of no better outcome for the ‘Bernie Madoff of Landlords.’