Litvin gives “pro” legal tips, discussing how the banks are out to rip you off.

Gennady Litvin / Source: About.me

Gennady Litvin / Source: About.me

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing a local law firm and its namesake attorney, accusing them of running a fraudulent mortgage rescue scheme that ripped off financially vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure.

The attorney general filed suit in New York County Supreme Court yesterday against Midwood-based Litvin Law Firm and Miami-based Litvin, Torrens & Associates, as well as their principal attorney, Gennady Litvin.

Litvin Law Firm is located at 1716 Coney Island Avenue, and Litvin lives in Brooklyn. The firm’s website claims it can provide “foreclosure defense in 31 states across the US,” as does Litvin’s About.me page. Their YouTube page has a handful of testimonial videos from satisfied clients, as well as legal tips from Litvin himself. And radio and TV ads touted connections to “state attorney generals and the federal government.”

But it was all a sham, according to the attorney general.

One of the testimonial videos, claiming that Litvin’s firm successfully eliminated her mortgage in Alabama – even though Litvin was not permitted to practice in Alabama.

The suit claims that the law firms targeted struggling homeowners, then billed them monthly fees ranging from $595 to $750 each for services they would not – and often could not – offer.

Using third-party marketers, the firms picked up clients from across the nation, claiming that they would have a “custom made attorney defense team” that provided “a level of service that usually is only enjoyed by large corporate clients.” They said they’d do “forensic loan audits” to find errors in their mortgage documents and defend against foreclosure, winning concessions from lenders.

In reality, they only had offices in two states and were not permitted to provide foreclosure defense in many of the places where they enrolled clients. Homeowners in most cases never spoke to an attorney, never received representation, and never saw the benefit of the hundreds or thousands of dollars paid to the firms. Most wound up negotiating with lenders on their own, according to the attorney general.

The third-party marketers have already been taken to task by the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to a permanent ban on mortgage and debt relief services and paying $3.6 million to pay back duped clients.

The Litvin Law Firm was given the boot from practicing in Rhode Island in January after that state’s attorney general found he was offering mortgage foreclosure assistance despite not being licensed in that state.

The attorney general is on the lookout for possible victims of Litvin’s scheme. If you believe you were a victim of the Litvin Law Firm; Litvin, Torrens & Associates; or any of its affiliated marketers, or if you believe you were a victim of another mortgage fraud, please file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. Complaint forms are available here. You may also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Schneiderman’s office is also reminding beleaguered homeowners of the free services available through the Home Owner Protection Program (HOPP), which uses funds from the National Mortgage Settlement to fund legal services and housing counseling across New York to provide foreclosure prevention services. Consumers can call 855-HOME-456 for help.

Source: geinography/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of State Senator Marty Golden:

State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), in partnership with American Legion Amity Post 791, is urging community support for a collection drive to support our troops being cared for at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and The Armed Forces Military Nursing Home.

Senator Golden, along with Michael Moylan and Howard Dunn from Amity Post 791, are asking for the community to be generous and donate new board games and new pajamas, for the soldiers and their families. Board games such as Candy Land, Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary and many others, provide occupational therapy for the soldiers during hospital rehabilitation. Additionally, new pajamas for men, women and children, are being collected for the military families.

Senator Marty Golden stated, “I commend the members of the Amity Post 791 who are planning a visit later this Fall to our heroes being cared for at Walter Reed. As someone who has been there and met with the soldiers and their families, I can attest to the sacrifices these individuals have made, and to the heroism they have exhibited. These donations will send a message that right here in Brooklyn, we support our troops and will never forget their service.”

Donations can be brought to either of Senator Golden’s Brooklyn district offices located at 7408-5th Avenue (First Floor) and 3604 Quentin Road. Donations of new board games and pajamas will be accepted until Wednesday, November 12th.

For more information on this collection drive, please contact Senator Golden’s office at (718) 238-6044.

Photo by Laura Singer

Oh, wait… that’s from another horror movie. Here is a little Hitchcockian creepiness to start your day.

Shot (the photo, not the video) near East 14th Street and Emmons.

Photo by Laura Singer

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

bodega

Allif News & Grocery, where the winning ticket was sold. (Source: Google Maps)

Midwood’s Allif News & Grocery sold a winning lottery ticket last week, netting the unidentified winner $2 million.

The 1821 Avenue M bodega sold the Powerplay ticket on Wednesday, September 24. Though not the jackpot, the winner did match five white balls from the drawing.

Vos Iz Neias reports that the winnings have not yet been claimed as of Sunday. The winner has 365 days to claim his winnings.

The full $228.5 million jackpot was won by a customer of a California market. Eight others won $1 million, and a California resident nabbed $1.2 million.

Highlighted portion is the part to be demolished.

Highlighted portion is the part to be demolished.

Demolitions permits have been issued to the developers of the planned 30-story Voorhies Avenue tower for the connected property, 1524 Sheepshead Bay Road, which will be torn down to create a gated walkway for prospective residents.

The application for demolition was approved in mid-August, shortly after Muss Development and AvalonBay purchased the property and more than a month before plans were filed for the tower.

The storefront is actually part of a larger building, all owned by Muss, that spans four storefronts, including the Citibank.

That building, once known as the Soeller Building, is approximately a century old. While city records indicate it was built in 1927, old certificates of occupancy suggest it dates back to at least the 1910s.

Over the years it’s become a patchwork of materials and colors as it has been used, reused, subdivided, and used again. That made it a charming subject for the very excellent blogger at Lost New York City, who wrote about it and its eponymous owner back in 2011:

The Soeller Building was owned by Mary Soeller, who ran a hotel back in the late 1800s. It was thusly described in a legal document at the time (Mary was being sued): “a double  house with a veranda in front, and the veranda roof is extended at the sides so as to cover a room, which is the barber’s shop, at one end of the house, and at the other end to cover a room used as a billiard room.” It was called the Island View Hotel, and probably catered to the beach and racetrack crowd that flocked to Sheepshead Bay during the summers.

Admittedly, the building is hardly an architectural gem awaiting landmark status. But, for what it’s worth, Soeller was interesting cat who helped Sheepshead Bay become what it is today when she went and bought “swampland” by the Sheepshead Bay B.M.T. station to develop. Here’s some reminiscing the pioneer did on her 100th birthday in 1950, courtesy of the Brooklyn Eagle:

soeller

Click to enlarge

Sources tell Sheepshead Bites that the sidewalk fencing will go up any day now and demolition right after that.

As we reported yesterday, draft plans for the 1501 Voorhies Avenue tower reveal a gated walkway from the commercial corridor into the luxury development’s grounds. But with no approved plans to build yet, is demolishing a 100-year-old storefront perhaps premature?

Photo by Victoria K.

Photo by Victoria K.

Ocean Warehouse Liquors & Wine is setting up shop at 2965 Ocean Avenue, just north of Avenue Z.

The new business put signs up a week or two ago, but hasn’t yet rolled up its gates to customers. It replaces Kamron, a relatively short-lived Eastern European market, which itself replaces Ocean Bagels. That business took over the spot when Bagel Boy moved to its current location near the subway station.

Na zda-ró-vye, Ocean Warehouse!

suspects

The NYPD has released video of the three suspects who robbed a 67-year-old woman at gunpoint in an elevator of the Amalgamated Warbasse Houses in Coney Island.

As we first reported last week, three suspects followed the woman into the elevator of 425 Neptune Avenue at 8pm on September 22. The doors closed and the suspects flashed a gun and demanded money. She handed over her handbag, which had an LG cellphone and $20.

Cops have released the surveillance video turned over by the building’s security, showing the three suspects enter the building, and then board the elevator.

Neighbors at Warbasse say that a second robbery, at knifepoint, occurred in another Warbasse building this Monday. We’re still working to confirm the details of that incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

Photo by Barbara Pearson

Photo by Barbara Pearson

A lovely email from the photographer:

Keep in mind that ​this is​ Brooklyn, NYC where seeing even one hummingbird in your yard is a miracle​;​ to see two of them fighting over your hummingbird feeder is just beyond belief. And then for them to come to terms and both settle down on the feeder, AND to be able to get photos of it as it played out, well, what can I say.

These two hummingbirds were ​dueling for a couple of minutes before I went and got my camera. I still can’t believe that when I came back out they were still there going at it. It took about 6 minutes of them trying to chase each other away before they both just decided to tolerate each other and have some of that yummy sugar water.

Photo by Barbara Pearson

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

The approximately footprint of the combined properties now owned by Muss Development. (Source: Google Maps)

The development site, with Voorhies Avenue to the south and Sheepshead Bay Road to the north.

The developers behind the 30-story residential tower slated for 1501 Voorhies Avenue are envisioning a luxurious haven for the area’s wealthiest residents, housed behind a gated entrance on Sheepshead Bay Road and with units starting at $700,000, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

Muss Development and AvalonBay, the development team behind the planned 280,000-square-foot, 333-foot tall proposal, briefed community stakeholders at an off-the-record, behind-closed-doors meeting a week before Sheepshead Bites shed light on the plans. Several people at the meeting shared details with this publication on the condition of anonymity, since the meeting was considered a courtesy and not required by the developer.

What emerged from their description is the first glimpse of a luxurious project that will change the physical and, potentially, the socio-economic landscape of the Sheepshead Bay Road area.

The most immediate effect of the plans is an impending demolition of a storefront on Sheepshead Bay Road at East 16th Street. Where the prior developers sought to create a street that runs through to Voorhies Avenue, Muss and AvalonBay will create a pedestrian walkway. Attendees at the meeting said renderings shared with the group showed that the walkway was a gated private entrance to the complex’s grounds.

Behind the gates was a roundabout that caps off a long driveway from Voorhies Avenue, where vehicles will enter. The 52 outdoor parking spots will be to the east, the building, with its 124 garage spots, will be on the west, abutting the subway station. It’s unclear if the Voorhies Avenue driveway will be gated or have a security booth like Muss’ Oceana Development.

The building itself will soar 333 feet into the sky at its highest point, but a portion of the building – possibly the garage – will only be a few stories tall, capped off with an outdoor common space that could have a pool and be connected to a gym and health spa. They’re considering alternative amenities for the outdoor space as well, including a dog run. The building will be pet-friendly.

Three other developments by the same architect, Perkins Eastman, for the same developer, Avalon Bay (Source: Perkins Eastman) (Click to enlarge)

Three other developments by the same architect, Perkins Eastman, for the same developer, Avalon Bay (Source: Perkins Eastman) (Click to enlarge)

The price is not for the weak of wallet. Our sources said that units are designed to be comparable to the Oceana Development, and will begin at $700,000 for a one-bedroom. One attendee told Sheepshead Bites that prices are based on a $700 per square foot rate, though this couldn’t be confirmed by others in attendance (most of the details shared here were corroborated by multiple sources). None of our sources could provide the proposed price for the building’s most expensive units, but at the Oceana they were marketed for approximately $2.1 million when the building first opened.

All of our sources say that the building will be split between rentals and owned condos, with Muss selling the condos and AvalonBay managing the rental properties. One of the sources said the bottom two-thirds of the building will be rental, while the top third will be owned condos. No proposed rates were given for the rentals.

Rental tenants and condo owners would enter using the same entrance and use the same parking lot. However, of three elevators, two will be for both renters and owners, and one will be owners only.

Each attendee that we spoke to emphasized that the developer stated that the plans are far from set in stone and are only drafts; they’re subject to change.

Our sources told us that little opposition to the plan was raised by those in attendance, which included representatives for local elected officials and members of Community Board 15. Instead, they questioned specifics of the development that could be problematic.

Multiple attendees asked about affordable housing units, and were told “absolutely not.”

Parking was also a key issue raised by the stakeholders, with some saying 176 parking spaces for 250 units plus office spaces, although the minimum required by zoning, was far from sufficient for the neighborhood.

The developer responded saying that the building’s proximity to the subway station would make it unlikely tenants would have cars. One source told us that the developer said they believed much of the parking lot would sit empty most of the time.

This was described alternately by almost all of our sources as “bullshit” and “horseshit.”

Parking wasn’t the only vehicle-related issue raised. Voorhies Avenue is often at a standstill during the day, especially at that location where vehicles stop to pick up or drop off commuters at the train station, and a constant flow of cars depart the Belt Parkway at the exit ramp directly across from their proposed driveway.

The developer told attendees they’re working with the Department of Transportation to figure out the best road configuration to accommodate vehicles entering and exiting the property’s driveway. A Stop Sign on the property is being considered.

Sound and vibrations from the subway, just feet away from the property, was also discussed. The developers told attendees that the building would have special windows to block out the sound.

Among other concerns that came up was the additional stress that the highrise would place on sewage infrastructure, already criticized by some as deficient to handle the number of homes and businesses in the area. The developer said they’re conducting an environmental impact study. One source said the developer completed the study and found that there would be no problems to the infrastructure, but this was contradicted by another source. Other sources could not recall.

The building’s plans are still being reviewed by the Department of Building, and one source said they expect it that it will be put to a more vigorous process than most – although it will likely pass. The building is as-of-right and completely within zoning, so it will not need approval from the Community Board.

The developer told attendees they expect to begin construction by spring 2015 if all goes smoothly.

Demolition of the Sheepshead Bay Road storefront will happen within the coming days.

Police shot and killed a 47-year-old man who they said was wielding a knife he would not drop upon the officers’ arrival at an apartment at 820 Ocean Parkway Monday night, when they were responding to a 911 call of a man assaulting a woman, the NYPD said.

The NYPD did not identify the 47-year-old man, though the New York Daily News said the individual was Francisco Carvajal. Carvajal reportedly arrived at his girlfriend’s Ocean Parkway apartment around 7:20pm Monday evening and was threatening her and another man, Rafael Laureano, 51, with two knives, the Daily News reported.

The NYPD said Laureano too was hit by police fire, and he also died Monday night, though it hasn’t been determined if he died because of the police fire or because of a stab wound.

The two young children of the woman, Kataryzna Russo, were also at the apartment at the time.

70 Pct Suspect Knife 1Police said this was one of the knives used during the attack. Photo via NYPD.

Police said when they arrived at the apartment, Carvajal would not put down his weapon.

“After ordering the suspect to drop the knife multiple times, police discharged their firearms, striking the armed individual,” the NYPD said in a statement to the media. “The 47-year-old male was pronounced DOA at the scene.”

Laureano was removed to Maimonides Hospital, where he was pronounced DOA, police said.

The NYPD said “a 35-year-old female, as well as her two children, ages six and seven, were in the apartment at the time of the incident, and were unharmed.”

“The female and her children locked themselves in the apartment’s bathroom as the suspect, armed with two knives, attempted to gain entry,” police said.

The Daily News reported that after Carvajal, who was a body builder, busted into the apartment, Russo, “fearing the muscular man’s anger,” locked herself in the bathroom.

From the Daily News:

But Carvajal busted down the door, a knife in each hand, cop sources said.

Russo wrestled one knife away from Carvajal and stabbed him in the chest, the sources said.

Enraged, Carvajal turned his attention on Russo’s new love interest, and Laureano then fled the apartment, the sources said. Russo’s children also escaped the apartment, likely at their mother’s urging, and thus missed the horror that would follow.

Laureano returned to the apartment a short time later, and was banging on the door in an effort to get back inside. He was seen pounding on the door when police were called.

When police arrived, Laureano and Carvajal “were close together as the latter was lunging at both Laureano and the cops,” which is when the two were both hit by police fire, the Daily News said.

The investigation into this is ongoing, and the city medical examiner will conduct an autopsy on Laureano to determine his cause of death, the NYPD said.

Photo via Life Saver.