Man arrested for living rent-free in New York hotel for years

Man arrested for living rent-free in New York hotel for years
NYC man falsely claimed ownership over hotel after 5-year free stay
Fortune / VideoElephant

People often talk about living in the minds of their enemies rent-free, but one 48-year-old allegedly managed to live rent-free in an actual New York hotel for more than four years – and he’s finally been charged (by law enforcement, that is) over the whole situation.

Court documents and statements say Mickey Barreto booked a one-night stay at the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan in June 2018, but then called upon the hotel to give him a lease agreement for the room, citing the city’s rent stablilisation laws which grants those living in single rooms in a building a six-month lease.

When the hotel refused, he took it to court and then appealed that judgment which denied that request to the New York Supreme Court, who agreed with him and gave him possession of a single room.

Barreto is alleged to have then filed fake property documents a year later, in May 2019, seeking to go even further and transfer ownership of the whole hotel from the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity to himself.

He is even alleged to have tried demanding rent from another tenant.

According to the New York Post, Barreto was then able to convince officials at the city’s Department of Finance that he was the real owner of the hotel, and that the previous judgment granting him a room in the building was in fact his being given ownership of the entire establishment.

The actual owner of the hotel later succeeded in obtaining a court order banning Barreto from claiming to be the owner and making additional false filings, but he’s now accused of violating that order by submitting further false documents in April and September last year, including one once again trying to transfer hotel ownership to himself.

Commenting on the case, Manhatten district attorney Alvin Bragg said: “As alleged, Mickey Barreto repeatedly and fraudulently claimed ownership of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the New Yorker Hotel.

“We will not tolerate manipulation of our city’s property records by those who seek to scam the system for personal gain.”

In 2019, Barreto defended his actions and told the Post he “never committed any fraud”.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges this week and the outlet reports he’s due back in court at the start of May.

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