The Real Deal New York

Alleged drug-dealing seniors sold property for nearly $1M after city changed deed

The couple was under investigation when DCAS lifted restrictions for a vacant lot

March 31, 2016 10:30AM

2316 First Avenue in East Harlem

2316 First Avenue in East Harlem

Another miss-deed? The city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services agreed to change the deed restriction for a vacant lot that the owners then sold for $900,000 — all while the couple was under investigation for selling drugs, according to records.

In June, Dr. Rogelio Lucas and his wife Lydia were arrested for allegedly running an illegal oxycodone operation. Lucas wrote out 23,600 oxycodone prescriptions — at a street value of $77 million — over six and a half years for patients who didn’t need them, one of the city’s special narcotics prosecutor said at the time, CBS New York reported.

Before the elderly couple was arrested, they sold their land for $900,000, the New York Post reported. They bought it for $75,000 in 1985, and paid the city $100,000 in April for the lifting of the deed restriction on the lot, the newspaper reported. The land’s use had been restricted to nonprofit community services.

The Post reported that city officials had no way of knowing the couple was under investigation when the deed was changed.

In recent weeks, the revelation that DCAS moved to lift the deed restriction for 45 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side — clearing the path for a $116 million sale to China Vanke, Slate Property Group and Adam America Real Estate Group —sparked uproar. The developers plan to convert the former nonprofit AIDS-care facility into 100 luxury condominiums units.

De Blasio said he was blindsided and angered by the Rivington House news, the New York Times reported. The newspaper reported the city agreed to change or modify at least nine deed restrictions — with owners paying anywhere from nothing to up to $875,000 — since de Blasio took office.

Allure Group, a for-profit nursing home operator, paid $28 million for the 150,000-square-foot property at 45 Rivington Street in early 2015. Allure then paid the city $16 million to lift the deed restriction requiring the building be used for nonprofit business.

Comptroller Scott Stringer subpoenaed the documents and the city turned them over last week. City Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer requested the same documents from DCAS in a letter sent Tuesday. [NYP and NYT]Dusica Sue Malesevic

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