Steve Croman appeared on national television last year and again on repeat television in late 2019, but probably not in the way he might’ve hoped. The long-running syndicated television show American Greed examined the con game the “Madoff of Landlords” was playing when he was charged in a broad case that included, among other things, mortgage fraud, wire fraud and tenant harassment. The show’s storyline is well written enough, but it feels unfinished.

American Greed did a decent job describing the dedication and commitment of the lawyers from the office of the New York Attorney General who prosecuted Mr. Croman. The AG had gotten wind of Croman’s practice of using ex-NYPD cops, possibly high on steroids, to instill fear among Croman’s tenants using all manner of threats. In the criminal case it brought, however, the government traded in twenty felonies for a short jail sentence and a fine. That’s called plea bargaining.

To appreciate such a modest victory, one must know of the historically unprosecuted landlord crimes and misdeeds that occur every day in New York City. A jail sentence is almost never rendered upon a landlord, so nine months in Rikers is considered by many to be something like a baby step toward justice. The jail term, however, was served for Croman’s mortgage fraud, not for what he did to his tenant-victims. The bankers got their pound of flesh first. Croman was released from prison last year, but the civil aspects of his misdeeds are ongoing.

The civil case brought against Croman at the same time as the criminal case was also settled at the same time, as part of “one global settlement,” which had been the declared legal strategy of defense counsel Benjamin Brafman from the outset. Brafman demanded and got a million-dollar retainer from Croman for that service.

Having the means to make restitution goes a long way in easing the burden of a conviction. Croman has been made to pay over eight million dollars into a fund to be administered by a referee who has been fielding tenant claims and authorizing payouts.

The tenants, many of whom were transformed into activists by their circumstances, gave compelling testimony. But the backstory segment of this American Greed episode really missed a chance to expose Croman as merely one of hundreds of similar degenerate landlords in our city. Exploring the pattern and practice of how landlords and their lawyers game the system would have been a public service. Instead, American Greed producers closed the segment with a YouTube video of Croman’s son cursing out an Uber driver with the pathetic “Do you know who I am?” routine. It was both vile and viral.

Two things are now certain: 1) Croman will remain on the Attorney General’s “Worst Landlords” list for some time; 2) his son, like an apple falling close to the tree, will likely inherit a business virtually unchanged by his father’s sins. And get this: when he got out of jail, the very bank he defrauded loaned him the dough to buy the White Horse Tavern!

As for American Greed, I hope it runs repeats of this Croman episode forever so that Greenwich Village will never forget what this landlord did and how he and his family have shown zero remorse.

—Joseph Turco, Esq.

The writer is a trial lawyer.

2 thoughts on “American Greed, Starring Steve Croman

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      Comment. Its mdc not rikers. See bowery boogie 10/2017 article. Croman frivolous lawsuit a lot was just froze no action after ag came forward. Respondent is stuck with fraud claim and fake rent being push the court order tenant to pay. So who is going to clear these false certification? Why the court don’t put funding and pull out these harassing case and fine these lawyer that put in fraud into court. 1 ny lawyer did such i was surprise california gave him license to practice in ca. Another one who as notary public sign off miltiple fraud affidavit into court tricking outsource law firm to come in to support croman crime. This guy with history of being sued back by croman tenant and won why he now allow to be partner of a law firm in nyc? This should not be allow? Why lawyer who come forward accuse respondent conducting criminal duties with the fed to repeat use the same subject repeatly input data into court to try to fit data fit for croman use is allow to keep their license and continue sport croman? All these issue an much more still is a subject of ???no outcome keep me unknown

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        Adding to the list of above comment…when the attorney general came forward to investigate croman and his employee was continue use construction harassment against his tenants especially those he was trying to evict while ag was starting court session in Supreme Court criminal division using water leak ceiling collapse from upper floor empty apt demolition renovation trying to kill the respondent aka tenant below the renovating apt. Killing the tenant is a way to save future legal expense in continue the lawsuit, get another dhcr rent regulated apt back and property manager etc will get the bonus croman was paying out to helper who helps him get rid of another tenant. All this 20+ years of croman citywide tenant harassment started by 1 place….nys dept of license for ongoing issue business license to each 100+ nys dhcr regulated building croman buys and do nothing to recognize and protect nyc rent stabilized and rent control apts that dhcr regulates. The 2016 video ag and dhcr came forward announce croman arrest missed a lot of investigating stuff that can be added to the list of what was found. We are talking about citywide over 100+ building attack, hundred and thousands of victim whether is his tenant or not this should not let happen. Worse of all court are let frivolous lawsuit adding and filing in and did nothing about it. Court and judges were trick to support frivolous lawsuit. Court funding $$$ were let waste and used to allow frivolous lawsuit being conducted and did nothing about it. To correct the above west view news article by trial lawyer. croman did not go to rikers he went to mdc according to posting from bowery boogie 10/2017 web site posting. American Greed did a excellent job in their story except it was too short of a 15-20 min show try to jam in everything. The show should have been longer.

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