A homeless Manhattan widow is waging warfare in opposition to her billionaire landlord.
Deborah Privitello, mother of three, has been pressured out of her rent-stabilized duplex condominium for practically 4 years amid a decades-long courtroom battle with Francis Greenburger — often called the “Co-op King of New York” — who she claims turned her “beautiful life” right into a “sick nightmare” when he snapped up her Midtown East constructing.
Privitello and her husband, Michael, had already been within the $1,400-a-month, ground-floor pad for 9 years when Greenburger’s Time Equities Inc. purchased the five-story constructing, 342 East fiftieth St., and the adjoining five-story 344 East fiftieth St. for $2.5 million in September 2001.
The household lived within the largest unit within the buildings: a three-bedroom, 1.5 bathtub with a working hearth, washer and dryer, air conditioner, full basement and French doorways to the yard — a spot with a present market worth round $9,000 a month.
“We’d slow dance in the living room,” Privitello mentioned. “It was just special.”
Issues rapidly headed south.
Inside weeks of its buy, Time Equities allegedly tried to transform the household’s yard and vestibule into widespread areas, minimize off utilities just like the washer and took over the basement, the widow claims. Inside months, the basement started to flood. By 2005, the corporate even tried to evict them for flying an American flag out front, claiming it breached their lease.
“We had a beautiful life there, before these people came into it,” mentioned Privitello, who’s in her early 60s and is retired from the leisure trade.
As Time Equities transformed the remainder of the items to condos, the Privitellos turned the lone holdouts, refusing to depart or take a buyout, with Michael Privitello preventing in courtroom to protect the house because the disrepair worsened.
Michael Privitello, 56, died of a sudden mind tumor in 2006, his spouse mentioned. Years later, the household believes the poisonous mildew that had invaded their dwelling with the repeated floods contributed to Michael’s glioblastoma, a “rare form of cancer that scientific articles now show to have a link to exposure … [to] toxic mold,” they declare in courtroom papers.
“I was married 25 years, he was never sick in his life,” mentioned the widow.
Michael Privitello’s demise did nothing to stave off Time Equities, claims Deborah, who alleges the corporate despatched a course of server to hit her with extra courtroom papers whereas they sat shiva.
Repeated floods, leaks, rodents and ceiling collapses created harmful mildew thatTime Equities failed to repair, in response to courtroom papers.
There have been “multiple collapsing ceilings” within the 100-year-old constructing, and dozens of violations doled out by the Buildings Division, courtroom papers present.
In April 2018, the town slapped a partial vacate order on Privitello’s condominium — forcing her and her kids out. Later that yr, the state Division of Housing and Group Renewal discovered the house uninhabitable, and decreased the household’s hire to $1 a month, a call it reaffirmed Nov. 10.
Since then, Privitello has drained her life financial savings as she and her children have bounced from resort to resort.
“I have a rent-stabilized apartment that’s legally mine, that [my kids] have succession rights to, that’s worth over $3 million. We are having to live in hotels and this guy hasn’t paid a nickel,” she fumed.
At the least one fed-up choose ordered Time Equities in 2019 to pay Privitello greater than $118,000 to reimburse the household for “substantial out-of-pocket expenses for hotels, related expenses, mold remediation and inspections,” courtroom information present.
As an alternative of paying, Time Equities appealed. A state appeals courtroom overturned the judgment final yr, leaving a determined Privitello to make use of her life financial savings as a substitute.
“My children’s lives have been turned upside down. It has been a sick nightmare,” she mentioned.
The son of a Queens literary agent, Greenburger’s rags-to-riches story began with him quitting college to take over his father’s business earlier than transferring into actual property and constructing a portfolio of items which turned co-ops. He’s reportedly value $4 billion.
The owner repeatedly contends in courtroom proceedings that Privitello has denied them entry to make repairs, a declare her lawyer shot down in a latest authorized submitting which known as the security of all the constructing into query.
“We have cooperated in every way possible to have them correct the harm they have done through poor maintenance … Instead of doing so, they attempt to frame [Privitello] by falsely claiming a lack of access,” wrote legal professional Joel Dichter.
Time Equities informed The Put up that Privitello “goes to the apartment and refuses to let anyone in” each time repairs are deliberate, a declare the widow rapidly shot down.
“I haven’t set foot in the apartment in 3 1/2 years,” Privitello mentioned, including, “Why would I not want somebody to come in and make repairs?”