Landlords seeking millions from real estate attorney who disappeared

Lawsuit, judgments of confession filed against Mitchell Kossoff

Mitchell Kossoff (iStock, Kossoff, PLLC/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
Mitchell Kossoff (iStock, Kossoff, PLLC/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Three more landlords have come forward with claims that real estate attorney Mitchell Kossoff owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kossoff, the managing partner of Kossoff PLLC, has been unreachable for several days both by his partners at the firm and his clients, The Real Deal reported Wednesday. His disappearance has raised questions about the whereabouts of his clients’ millions.

Now, one lawsuit and two judgments of confession have been filed in New York State Supreme Court against Kossoff and his eponymous law firm. That’s in addition to a separate lawsuit, previously reported by TRD, that accuses the firm of “potentially criminal acts” that constitute a “grievous breach” of its duties.

Kossoff PLLC did not respond to a request for comment.

The second lawsuit was filed by SSM Realty Group, an investment firm in Huntington, New York, and accuses Kossoff’s firm of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. According to the complaint, the firm transferred $2 million to Kossoff PLLC, to be held in escrow, as it attempted to close on a Greenwich Village property located at 17 Gay Street. The company loaned an additional $300,000 to the law firm and Kossoff.

In February, according to the complaint, SSM requested that Kossoff return at least $1.5 million of the funds held in escrow, but the attorney allegedly declined to do so. In March, Kossoff returned $700,000 to the plaintiff, but has recently gone silent.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“[S]ince that time [Kossoff] became increasingly difficult to track down, failed to return the remainder of the escrow funds, and ultimately stopped communicating with Plaintiff as of April 1, 2021,” per the complaint.

The complaint also alleges wrongdoing on the part of Kossoff, who reportedly had “exclusive control” over the escrow account. According to the complaint, Kossoff “intentionally and wrongfully” refused to return the funds in escrow before disappearing.

SSM Realty Group is still owed $1.3 million from its escrow account, as well as a balance of $190,902 from the $300,000 loan.

Lawyers for SSM Realty Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Those allegations are similar to the suit filed Wednesday by Westchester-based investor Rob Yaffa, who says Kossoff’s law firm never wired him money tied to a recent building sale. Yaffa said Kossoff instead went AWOL.

In two other cases, Kossoff has signed confessions of judgments, meaning that he accepts the liability and amount of damages that were agreed on. The first proposes that he owes $461,788.81, while the other proposes $222,140.06.