Building manager charged in alleged scam

By Amy Tennery | July 13, 2010 02:45PM

One of the allegedly targeted buildings at 99-45 67th Road in Rego Park and DA Richard Brown

(Updated 3:10 p.m., July 13) A former managing agent for a collection of five Queens apartment buildings has been charged with embezzling almost $950,000 in tenant-paid maintenance fees, according to the Queens district attorney’s office. The defendant, Michael Richter, and his company, Charter Management Realty, allegedly siphoned off the cash over a six-year period, concealing his scheme behind a lock-box bank account, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Minutes before his scheduled arraignment, Richter’s attorney Kevin Keating told The Real Deal that his client would be entering a not guilty plea and that he would be “proceeding forward with his defense.”

Keating said that, up until this incident, Richter had an unblemished past.

“Michael certainly has no criminal record,” Keating said, “and [has] an excellent reputation in the community.”

In a written statement, however, Brown described Richter as calculating and deceptive.

“The defendant allegedly carried out his scheme like a Ponzi scam — commingling all of the funds into one account and hiding the thefts by paying the expenses of one client with the monies of other clients,” Brown said. “His alleged conduct represents a betrayal of the confidence that the boards of each building had in him.”

A Rego Park apartment development at 99-45 67th Road allegedly had the most money nabbed in the scheme — $353,963.92. Four other affected apartments in the reported embezzlement are in Jamaica, Forest Hills and Elmhurst. Richter has been officially charged with five counts of second-degree larceny and five counts of first-degree falsifying business records. If convicted, he could spend as many as 15 years behind bars. Calls to Charter Management revealed that the number had been disconnected.