He lived in a hotel for free for 5 years. Only now did the police catch him

He lived in a hotel for free for 5 years.  Only now did the police catch him

A New Yorker lived for free in a famous hotel in Manhattan for five years. To avoid paying, he used a little-known local housing law. Only after such a long time did the police manage to arrest him.

For five years, a man lived in a New York hotel without paying rent. To avoid paying, he used a little-known local housing law. Only in February 2024 did prosecutors decide that Mickey Barreto had gone too far in his actions – he even presented documents that the New Yorker hotel was his property and tried to collect rent from another tenant. He has been stopped.

He lived in a hotel for free for 5 years

This story sounds like a script for a good movie. A few years ago, Mickey Barreto came to New York from Los Angeles. It was then that his partner told him about a legal loophole that allows residents of single rooms in buildings built before 1969 to request a six-month lease. Barreto paid for a night at the hotel and, thanks to this right, felt like a tenant. He informed the hotel about this, but its managers immediately kicked him out. The man decided to take it to court.

“The next day I went to court. The judge refused. I appealed to the (state) Supreme Court and won the appeal,” Barreto said, adding that at a crucial moment, lawyers for the building’s owners failed to show up at the hearing, allowing the man to win.

The judge ordered the hotel to give Barreto a key. The man lived at the New Yorker in Manhattan until July 2023, paying no rent because the building’s owners were never willing to negotiate a lease with him, but they couldn’t evict him.

Manhattan prosecutors confirm that the housing court gave Barreto the right to “possess” the room. However, the American did not end there. In 2019, he posted a fake property deed on the city’s website in which he allegedly transferred ownership of the entire building from the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, which had purchased the property in 1976. The church was founded in South Korea by a self-proclaimed messiah, the late Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

“Mickey then tried to enforce certain things as the owner of the building, such as demanding rent from one of the hotel’s tenants, registering the property under his name with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for water and sewer fees, and demanding that the hotel bank hand over the bills,” the statement said. prosecutors Office.

“Mickey Barreto has repeatedly claimed ownership of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the New Yorker Hotel,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

In this case, Baretto argued that the judge who gave him “possession” of his room indirectly gave him the entire building because it had never been subdivided. “I never intended to commit any fraud. I don’t think I’ve ever committed any fraud. I never made a penny from it,” Barreto said.

The police finally arrested the fraudster

On Wednesday, February 14, Barreto was arrested and charged with submitting false property declarations. The 48-year-old claims that he was surprised when the police showed up at his partner’s apartment with guns and bulletproof shields. According to him, it should be a civil case, not a criminal one.

As a reminder, the New Yorker Hotel, located one block from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station, has never been one of the city’s most glamorous hotels, but it has long been one of its largest. The huge red “New Yorker” sign makes it an oft-photographed landmark. Inventor Nikola Tesla lived in the hotel for a decade. NBC broadcast from the hotel’s terrace room. Boxers, including Muhammad Ali, stopped there when they had fights scheduled. It stopped accepting guests in 1972 and was used for church purposes for years before part of the building reopened as a hotel in 1994.

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