Two Brooklyn landlords charged with driving out rent-stabilized tenants

Joel and Aaron Israel accused of destroying homes with sledgehammers
April 17, 2015 08:30AM

Brooklyn landlords and brothers Joel and Aaron Israel are facing criminal charges including fraud, burglary, and unlawful eviction after they destroyed multiple rent-stabilized tenants’ homes in order to drive them out.

The Israels, who own 10 apartment buildings in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick under their company JBI Management, are accused of such misdeeds as taking a sledgehammer to a Bushwick woman’s kitchen and bathroom while she was out without warning. That incident occurred at 324 Central Avenue, the New York Times reported.

At 98 Linden Street in Bushwick, destroyed kitchens and bathrooms and also demolished a wall between two apartments, while claiming the work was necessary for repairs.

Criminal charges against landlords are rare, but due to the wave of rapid gentrification sweeping many areas of the city and increasingly egregious tactics being used by landlords to drive out rent-stabilized tenants to increase their profits, some say prosecution has become necessary.

“It’s time for law enforcement to step up,” said Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth P. Thompson. “We can no longer let these matters linger in Housing Court.” [NYT] — Tess Hofmann