L.I. developer arrested after failing to pay $215K

From left: Eric Schneiderman, Deborah Mohring and 711 Willis Avenue
From left: Eric Schneiderman, Deborah Mohring and 711 Willis Avenue

A Long Island developer was arrested on contempt charges Tuesday morning and could spend five days in jail after failing to pay $215,000 in restitution to the Cambridge Park Condominium in Williston Park, N.Y., The Real Deal has learned.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s office arrested Richard T. Mohring Jr., the co-owner of R&D Willis Avenue, after he ignored three separate court orders to repair a failed retaining wall at the 37-unit complex, located at 711-725 Willis Avenue. His co-developer and wife, Deborah Mohring, is still being pursued by authorities.

However, New York State Supreme Court Judge Carol Huff vacated the arrest on the condition that he make a $50,000 payment towards restitution by March 15 and respond to a subpoena requesting information on the couple’s assets.

“He’s doing what he’s supposed to do,” said Eugene Russo, the attorney representing Mohring. “He’s going to be making payments.”

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the Mohrings in March 2011 after they failed to make repairs at the condo conversion, previously the site of two adjacent rental buildings. Following a 2007 fire at the complex, inspectors found the developers did not have proper certificates of occupancy and failed to make promised repairs on an 18-foot retaining wall.

In the summer of 2012, a state judge ordered the couple to make the $215,000 restitution payment or face jail time. However, the night before the judge was scheduled to hear the case, Richard Mohring filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, in an apparent effort to shield his personal assets. The bankruptcy was thrown out by a federal judge after he failed to submit the required documentation, according to officials.

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“By their willful inaction and indifference, Richard and Deborah Mohring put the residents of the Cambridge Park condominium in danger,” Schneiderman said in a statement emailed to The Real Deal.

“What’s more, they have failed to pay the money they owe in open defiance of repeated court orders,” he added. “This office will not stand by when property developers like the Mohrings cheat homebuyers, put their victims in physical danger and flout court orders.”

Russo told The Real Deal that Richard Mohring, who had projects in New York and Florida, is a victim of the economic collapse, and noted that regulators have failed to apply the same amount of legal scrutiny to big banks that received billions of dollars in bailout money.

“It’s tough making payments when you don’t have the same income you once had,” Russo said. “The government’s not helping the little guy.”

The Mohrings made an initial $45,000 payment on Jan. 18; they will owe another $50,000 on April 1 and on May 1 and must make a final $20,000 payment on June 15th, legal sources familiar with the case said.

The Next Court date is scheduled for March 18, and an additional warrant will be issued if Robert Mohring fails to respond.

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