The Real Deal New York

Alleged Ponzi schemer Cheskel Strulowitz facing foreclosure on BK portfolio

Maverick Real Estate Partners bought about $40M worth of distressed loans
By Rich Bockmann | October 13, 2017 03:45PM

106 Kingston Avenue and 908 Bergen Street

Brooklyn investor Cheskel Strulowitz, who’s battling allegations of running a $90 million real estate Ponzi scheme, is facing foreclosure on a portion of a 31-property portfolio in the borough, court records show.

Maverick Real Estate Partners, which in March launched a $75 million private equity fund focused on acquiring distressed debt, purchased about $40 million worth of loans from Signature Bank in May backed by the 31 properties Strulowitz owns across Brooklyn, records filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court show.

Just a few days after acquiring the loans, Maverick sent Strulowitz notices informing him that the loans were in default, and the lender was requiring the balances to be immediately paid in full, court records show.

According to foreclosure documents Maverick’s attorneys filed earlier this week, Strulowitz went into default on the loans, in part, because he claimed to be the sole owner of the properties, but his own court filings say he owned less than 56 percent.

A handful of the properties facing foreclosure are the subject of case in Brooklyn federal court accusing Strulowitz of running a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme.

A group of Israeli investors claim they invested $20 million with Strulowitz and his partners to buy 20 properties throughout Brooklyn, as The Real Deal reported in April. But Strulowitz and his partners turned around and borrowed heavily against those properties to make other purchases of their own, the investors claim.

Documents that Strulowitz, who sometimes spells his name Chaskiel Strulovich, filed in the federal case attest that he only owns a portion of the properties backed by the Maverick loans, the private equity firm’s attorneys claim in court.

“Strulovitch in fact held less than a 56 percent interest in these approximately 20 real estate holding entities. . . .” court papers claim. “Such misrepresentations . . . constitute events of default as defined under the loan documents.”

Strulowitz and his attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. A representative for Maverick declined to comment.