Rabbi involved in several lawsuits, accused of stealing NYC buildings

October 17, 2011 01:03PM

Rabbi Benjamin Herbst and his associates are named in several
lawsuits that accuse him of forging paperwork to steal buildings, in
addition to a previously reported case involving 315 West 35th Street,
according to Real Estate Weekly. The court cases suggest that Herbst and
his partners have participated in schemes in which they have forged
documents and signatures in order to gain title to properties they do
not own and also leverage money against them.

“It’s like the Leonardo DiCaprio movie ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ but
instead of just forging checks, this guy forges deeds,” said attorney
Stephen Meister, who is involved in one of the cases. Similar to the
accusations involving 315 West 35th Street, where Isaac Chetrit of the
Chetrit Group alleges he was defrauded out of a mortgage, court
records allege that Herbst committed similar crimes at a
property where he was living in Borough Park in 1999. The property had
been bought by a New Jersey-based real estate investment company
called Providence Properties that had been previously owned by his
wife. But Herbst created an impostor company, also named Providence,
but based in Borough Park, and proceeded to transfer the property,
5001 17th Avenue, into his son Richard’s control.

In another incident, in 2006, Herbst appeared to arrange a deal in which funds would be
directed into a building in Detroit being sold by a man named Mayer
Goldberger. Yet the transaction was never completed. In a more recent
case, Herbst appears to have improperly transferred ownership of a
vacant home next to his house in Brooklyn into his possession, a
project the Department of Buildings has since ordered him to stop.
Herbst denied the charges to Real Estate Weekly, and said such
allegations were inevitable for him because he is often involved in
working out distressed real estate deals that lead to contentious
negotiations. [REW]