Developer Ben Zion Suky and the wife of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto are facing a new set of legal woes as the Bank of New York filed a lawsuit Tuesday to foreclose on their $769,000 mortgage for an Upper East Side apartment.
In the suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, Bank of New York alleges that Suky, a principal at Livorno Partners, and Debora Rivka Pinto, defaulted on a mortgage loan at the Cielo, a condo at 450 East 83rd Street and York Avenue. Sources say there is a tenant living in the apartment.
The suit claims that Suky and Pinto failed to make $5,182 in monthly payments starting in June 2011, and have not made a payment since, owing a balance of $726,000.
The two are already facing prior allegations of defaulting on $17,000 in common charges at the building, but they filed a $1 million counterclaim alleging they were denied access to common areas of the building.
Tuesday’s suit marks the latest financial blow to Suky.
Suky and his Livorno business partner Yosi Zaga are long time associates of the rabbi, who has acted as an advisor to several high-profile figures in the New York real estate world. Sources say that Pinto’s wife has worked with Suky and Zaga as an investor in other properties or business ventures.
Suky and Zaga previously lost a foreclosure case at 215 East 81st Street, a condo building where they failed to repair millions of dollars in construction defects and code violations and had a receiver appointed. Court records show that eight sponsor-owned units at the building have been rented, but significant work remains to bring the rest of the building into compliance with code violations.
A final judgment of $4.1 million was ordered in a separate foreclosure suit at a five-story walkup building at 501½ East 83rd Street. Suky and Zaga defaulted on the mortgage from First Central Savings Bank of Glen Cove, N.Y., by failing to make monthly payments of $23,400 at the property.
PropertyShark.com records show the building was sold at auction in September 2011 for $2.65 million to investor Brooklyn-based Gus Kodogiannis.
An auction of the property’s mezzanine debt was originally scheduled for May 2011, but the entity that controlled the property, Madison Hotel Owners, controlled by Suky and Roxy Deli owner Joseph Ben Moha, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the day before the auction.
Rabbi Pinto, along with business partners Ilan Bracha and Haim Binstock, is facing his own legal troubles at the Heritage at Trump Place at 240 Riverside Boulevard, where a foreclosure suit was filed in connection with a retail site slated for conversion into a synagogue. A hearing was previously scheduled for March 29, but the case has been adjourned, Scot Mackoff, attorney for the partners said.
Lawyers for Pinto and Suky say that the investors are working to get these various claims resolved.
The clients don’t have the money,” Pinto’s and Suky’s attorney, Kelly Griffin, said. “They’ve been trying to get it from every source they can.”
Attorney Victor Metsch, representing 215 East 81st Street, declined to comment. Kodogiannis was not immediately available for comment.