Lawyers with political connections earn large fees as receivers for distressed NYC properties

June 21, 2011 11:52AM

From left: Mark Lebow, Seymour Boyers, Howard Vargas, Paul Vallone and Marc Landis

Lawyers appointed by judges to be receivers of distressed properties typically earn 5 percent of the building’s revenue until the property changes hands. And according to the New York Times, New York City judges are increasingly selecting politically connected lawyers to earn that income. Mark Lebow, the husband of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s aide Patricia Harris, was awarded receivership of 576 Fifth Avenue, and has earned $352,00 in fees, or $5,000 a week. Other notable receivers include Paul Vallone, of a powerful Queens political family, Howard Vargas, former commissioner of the Taxi and Limousine Commission and Marc Landis, a member of Attorney General Eric Scheiderman’s transition team. The father of former mayoral candidate William Thompson, Jr. was also chosen to steward six distressed properties, as was Dominick Calderoni, a law partner of State Senator Jeffrey Klein. The most profitable receivership, according to the Times, went to Seymour Boyers, who earned $760,000 overseeing the Riverton apartments in Harlem. Members of his law firm had contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Justice Richard Braun, who appointed Boyers to manage the properties. Of the more than 600 eligible receivers in New York City, the appointees continue to be familiar names with political connections. Despite the obvious ties, Ann Pfau, the state’s chief administrative judge, attributed the trend to “human nature.” She added: “When you have a property that’s vulnerable, you want to appoint somebody that you have faith in, or someone maybe you were familiar with.” [NYT]