UES co-op sues ex-managing agent for allegedly swiping $776K

By David Jones | August 30, 2013 04:01PM

An Upper East Side co-op is suing its former managing agent for allegedly stealing $776,000 from the property through forged checks.

The co-op, a five-story walkup at 206 East 90th Street, filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 in Manhattan Supreme Court Aug. 20 against Lorraine Hayden, of 626 Riverside Drive, for breach of contract, theft, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty. She worked for Cooper Square Realty, now called FirstService Residential, but managed the co-op’s finances as a second job.

Hayden, according to court documents, signed over the funds either to herself or her children, starting in 2006. The lawsuit seeks restitution of the $776,000 as well as the more than $93,000 that Hayden has earned since 2006.

“The co-op will be pursuing every legal remedy to recover the money that we believe was taken,” said attorney Steven Sladkus of Wolf Haldenstein, which represents the 30-unit building.

Hayden hung up the telephone when TRD asked about the lawsuit; FirstService Residential officials could not be reached for comment.

Also named in the legal action are banking giant JP Morgan Chase, for honoring the checks; and the co-op’s account and auditor, Leonard Friedman and Richard Grabarnick, of East Meadow and North Bellmore, N.Y. respectively. The men are accused of accounting and auditing malpractice, citing failure to discover the alleged forgeries and making unauthorized payments of the co-op’s funds.

JP Morgan Chase declined comment; Grabarnick could not be reached immediately for comment ; and Friedman told TRD that he was not aware of any theft and had not been notified of any legal action..

The New York District Attorney’s office told TRD that it does not comment on current investigations, but does not have Hayden listed under its active cases.