Grifter Finally Evicted from West Village Houses
By Arthur Z. Schwartz
Heidie Russell has had to live with a horrific intruder in her apartment on Barrow Street since June 2019. This intruder, who was supposed to be a 1-2 night Air B&B-type visitor, refused to leave, and became such an intrusive ameba-like presence that for the last two years Heidie had to move out and stay with a neighbor. Not only that, her domestic partner, Valentina, who was visiting relatives in Ukraine when the grifter moved in, has been stuck in Kyiv, in the middle of a war!
And who did Heidie Russell call when the problem first arose looking for help? George Capsis at WestView. And who did George tell her to call? Her Local Democratic District Leader.
And so, since the darkest days of the COVID Pandemic, I held Heidie’s hand, and worked the courts for her with a wonderful unpaid L&T attorney named Matthew Porges. During March, April and May, 2020, I had a daily check-in with Heidie, as she was stuck inside with the crazed squatter and her then 12-year-old daughter.
We researched the squatter, who went by the name Kate Gladstone sometimes, and Kate Klein sometimes, and found that Heidie was not her first victim. One poor guy sublet his studio on Bank to her for July and August in 2017 and she wouldn’t leave. He, like Heidie, had to live elsewhere, and couldn’t afford a lawyer. So, he stopped paying his rent and the landlord evicted him and Gladstone-Klein. She found another victim a few blocks south. This woman paid Kate $25,000 to leave. And then Kate stole her credit card and ran up $50,000 in expenses, which got her arrested while she was living at Heidie’s place. Kate stalked the person she stole from, who got an Order of Protection. When that was violated, Kate Klein-Gladstone got arrested again. (These charges are still pending.)
Kate Gladstone-Klein gave tenant’s rights a bad name. She signed an agreement to leave in March 2020 and a warrant was issued several days before the Governor announced an Eviction Moratorium, and Kate refused to leave. Three other eviction warrants followed, and on the morning of each eviction, she dropped some paper in court, which under whatever COVID-related tenant protection was in place, stopped the eviction. She even got a stay for filing an Emergency Rental Assistance application, even though Heidie wasn’t pursuing rent, (Kate did not pay any rent for three years, while Heidie and Valentina were responsible for a $1200 per month maintenance payment.)
Finally, on Thursday August 25th her efforts failed. As the Marshall arrived at 9am she ran out the door, leaving a sobbing 14-year-old behind. The daughter told the Marshall, “Mommy is in court to stop this.” Twice that morning a Housing Court Judge wrote the word “DENIED,” in three-inch-tall capital letters, across the face of Kate’s Temporary Restraining Order application. The Marshall called her, and she said she was going to the Appellate Term. The Marshall called the 6th Precinct, who told Kate that if she didn’t return her daughter would be placed into foster care. She returned and the cop helped her pack up and move some of her belongings out.
The next day, as was her right, Heidie Russell called a moving and storage company and packed up the rest. Later that evening Kate showed up again, banging on the door, demanding to be let in, and spent most of the weekend doing that, saying she needed to get in to “get my stuff.” She stayed all weekend, despite being told that her “stuff” had been moved out. On Monday August 29th she was back in Court seeking to be restored to what she calls “her tenancy.” The Judge once again said “no,”
My neighbors should be forwarned. Look at Kate’s picture. Remember her name. She will zero in on another victim in the West Village soon. Be forewarned about sublets. If your building allows them, go through a reputable service like Air B&B or Venmo, who check out people’s backgrounds. Don’t fall for sob stories. It took three years for Heidie and Val to get their home back. The scars will take a long time to heal.
Arthur Schwartz is the Village Democratic Leader and the President of a public interest law foundation called Advocates for Justice.