When David Koraca applied to lease an apartment at 666 Greenwich Street in the West Village last January, the landlord had little reason to think he couldn’t make his monthly rent.
Koraca was reportedly raking in $500,000 a year, plus quarterly bonuses, as an investment banker and vice president at Goldman Sachs. He’d handed over an earnings statement and a note from his boss detailing his role at the venerable Wall Street firm.
But just two months into his one-year lease, Koraca missed a payment, according to Rockrose Development, the building’s landlord. When the pandemic hit, he stopped paying rent altogether.
Since then, Rockrose says that it has been unable to evict Koraca because evictions have been largely banned during the pandemic. This week, the firm filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court seeking to eject Koraca from his dwelling, claiming that because he misrepresented several facts about himself on the lease application — including his employer and his legal history — his lease is no longer valid.
Initially, Rockrose was perplexed as to why Koraca could not pay. His $500,000 salary should have been more than enough to cover the rent on the unit he leased, which, according to StreetEasy, was asking $5,165 per month.
Eventually, the landlord discovered that Koraca had never worked at Goldman Sachs, according to the complaint. In fact, Koraca had a long history of lying about his credentials.
At various points, Koraca — who also went by David Corazza — claimed to be Mark Wahlberg’s personal attorney and childhood friend; a Harvard Law School graduate; a captain in the U.S. Army; and, in his remaining time, a legal expert helping recover artwork stolen by the Nazi regime.
Those claims ultimately led Koraca to plead guilty to several counts of fraud and larceny in Massachusetts, in a case that the Suffolk County district attorney called “outright deception.” In 2016, he was sentenced to two to three years in state prison.
Three years later, Koraca was arrested in Westchester County for posing as a criminal defense lawyer and taking money from a victim, according to a report in the Rockland/Westchester County Journal.
Rockrose put the pieces together after realizing that Koraca’s photo in the news article was the same as the one on his driver’s license in his lease application.
Nonetheless, Koraca has been able to reside in the building rent-free for nearly a year thanks to state and federal eviction moratoriums, according to the lawsuit.
Rockrose claims it could not serve Koraca for months while the housing courts were closed. It was finally able to serve a notice of unpaid rent in late September, but before it could file an eviction notice, Koraca sent the landlord the CDC’s missive outlining its eviction moratorium to curb Covid-19. That moratorium is now in effect until March 31.
The lawsuit highlights some of the more extreme pitfalls of those moratoriums. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned evictions temporarily in March 2020 and has repeatedly extended the action.
In certain cases, this has led to landlords desperately — and unsuccessfully — trying to kick out unruly tenants. New York magazine recently profiled a renter who had taken control of a West Village apartment from the owner, essentially relegating her and all her belongings into one small room.
In the Hamptons, squatters have also taken advantage of the eviction moratorium. In one case, a Manhattan developer refused to leave a Westhampton Beach house that he was supposed to vacate on May 3.
Rockrose’s lawsuit claims that Koraca has been illegally occupying the apartment since he falsified his employment and did not disclose information about past criminal activity. The developer is seeking a judgment to eject Koraca from the property and collect on the rent owed. While the total amount was not disclosed, it could total as much as $51,000 based on the monthly rent from StreetEasy.
Koraca’s social media accounts — which are under his pseudonym, David Corazza, and have been dormant since 2016 — portray him as a person of affluence and success. In one post, he is getting fitted for a Tom Ford suit; in another, he’s posing in front of a Ducati motorcycle. He has a penchant for quoting Harvey Specter, a high-powered attorney on the TV series “Suits,” going so far as to call himself “the real Harvey Specter” in his Twitter bio.
Rockrose’s lawyers declined to comment, citing pending litigation. Attempts to reach Koraca and his past attorney, Phillip Grimaldi, were unsuccessful. Goldman Sachs also did not return a request for comment.