City Council candidate Igor Oberman is facing some heat for his leadership of the board of the 1,144-unit Trump Village 4, where some residents and former employees allege that he has abused his power and ruled with an iron fist.
A handful of dust-ups with residents and employees is now making its way into the race, with City & State and the New York Post picking up on the controversies.
This morning, City & State reported that Oberman has been the target of lawsuits from tenants and employees. They write:
As president of Trump Village’s co-op board, Igor Oberman has been sued by tenants on the verge of eviction, faces an age discrimination lawsuit from former employees and is accused of firing another longtime worker who represented other unionized employees at the co-op in a union-busting move.
… In January, Trump Village terminated Pierre Wyatt, a longtime porter at the Coney Island housing cooperative who was also the shop steward representing other union employees working there. Wyatt had taken abandoned flooring, according to one account, and wasn’t completely forthcoming about his actions when questioned. The Teamsters Local 804, however, saw Oberman’s move as union-busting, and the matter is now heading to arbitration.
In March, two female Trump Village employees in their early 60s sued Oberman after they lost their jobs, arguing that they were “harassed, verbally abused and intimidated for the purpose of replacing them with a more youthful staff,” according to a press release from their lawyer.
Prior to City & State’s report, the New York Post reported in April that residents complain Oberman has used eviction proceedings to solidify his control over the board.
One case involved Eugene Ovsishcher, a former soldier who returned home from a combat tour in Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ovsishcher’s wife, a CPA, had previously been asking questions about board finances.
Ovsishcher, 43, was later denied a “service pet” dog to deal with his PTSD and then hit with an eviction order.
He eventually won the legal right to keep his pooch and apartment.
But his psychiatrist, Dr. Zinoviy Benzar, who provided medical testimony on Ovsishcher’s behalf and lives in the complex, was then hit with an eviction order — as were Benzar’s wife and mother-in-law, who own three Trump co-ops between them.
The eviction orders, alleging a failure to pay surcharges for air conditioners, are pending.
But the trio has struck back with a $4.5 million countersuit, charging they were politically targeted for revenge.
Another resident, Yuliya Bezvoleva, 33, an active Army reservist, is fighting an eviction order after she launched an anti-Oberman petition drive.
Co-op boards in New York City are guided by a confusing mess of procedures and formulas called the Business Corporation Law, and there is no oversight agency or independent commission dedicated to co-op compliance – leaving courts as the only resort for residents seeking redress. Abuse allegations have been noted at co-ops here and throughout the city, though the allegations rarely find their way to court due to costly legal expenses.
At Trump Village 4, residents have sought to make their war public in an attempt to cripple Oberman’s campaign, launching a website dedicated to attacking his reign as board president.
Oberman declined to discuss the matter with Sheepshead Bites, instead forwarding us to his campaign spokesperson, who was not available for comment. However, the spokesperson disputed the allegations to City & State:
Chelsea Connor, a campaign spokeswoman, said that Wyatt, the former shop steward, was fired after he was accused of theft, and noted that a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board was dismissed. The two employees in their 60s had failed to deposit a $47,000 check, she said. As for the lawsuits regarding the eviction proceedings, Connor said that the building has had a no-pet policy for nearly 50 years and that another tenant had rewired an apartment and that it failed to meet fire code safety regulations.
Oberman will face off against District Leader Ari Kagan, Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo and Flatbush Shomrim founder Chaim Deutsch in the Democratic primary. In the general, former State Senator David Storobin is expected to take the Republican line.