Landlord appeals decision in ongoing Carol Cohen rent saga

Katz says BHS broker withheld true income in manner similar to "tax evasion"

Feb.February 16, 2012 03:30 PM

Carol Cohen’s former landlord, who last year sued the real estate broker for allegedly misstating her income in order to keep a rent-stabilized apartment, has appealed the September dismissal of the case.

The landlord, Katz 737 Corp., filed an appeal in the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Feb. 1, claiming that Cohen and husband, Lester, had hidden their true income “in a manner equivalent to “tax evasion,” and the dismissal of the case by a judge Sept. 26 2011 should be overturned.

The landlord’s appeal also stated that the Cohens should be held accountable for their so-called “fraudulent” behavior, according to court documents obtained by The Real Deal.

The initial lawsuit, which led to Cohen’s reported 2010 dismissal from the Corcoran Group, alleged that between 2004 and 2008, the couple repeatedly lied about their income on state forms in order to prevent a rent increase at their $3,060 per month apartment at 737 Park Avenue. The landlord claimed that they had reported their combined income as being less than $175,000 per year to avoid a rent hike. The Cohens had lived in the building, located between 71st and 72nd streets, since 1989.

That suit was dismissed in September, on the basis that the landlord’s claims were speculative and insufficient to prosecute. Cohen has since filed suit against Corcoran, seeking $3 million from the brokerage for allegedly spreading rumors about her personal and professional qualifications.

The landlord’s appeal references Cohen’s legal proceedings against Corcoran and her high-profile career during the real estate boom, citing it as evidence of her allegedly higher-than-declared earnings.

“It appears from both ‘media’ published sources, and from her own publicity/postings, that Carol Cohen was, during the period in question, one of the very leading brokers involved in sales of Manhattan luxury apartments,” the appeal states. “Her income from even just a handful of the sales for which she claimed responsibility would, at ’standard’ brokerage rates, have yielded her income well in excess of the applicable threshold.”

The appeal noted that in her suit against Corcoran, Cohen claimed that the firm refused to allow her to take her contact list when she left, thereby preventing her from generating income “in excess of $3 million.”

While Cohen and Katz’s attorneys both declined comment, a legal source told The Real Deal that an opposition filing in response to the appeal would likely be filed before the end of March.

Cohen was not immediately available for comment, but previously told The Real Deal in a statement that she regretted how the suit had affected her successful career at Corcoran.

“I was deeply disappointed by how the matter was handled by Corcoran, resulting in the split with the firm and my partner Deborah Grubman after a long and fruitful relationship,” she said.

Cohen has since taken a position at Brown Harris Stevens and is working out of the offices at 790 Madison Avenue.

Katz 737, which is made up of several family members of the late real estate developer and investor Louis Katz, no longer owns 737 Park Avenue, following the purchase of the building last summer by Harry Macklowe and Los Angeles-based firm CIM.

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