More Problems for Riverside Landlord

We previously reported that the petition of Pinnacle Group NY, the real estate company that owns, among some 400 residential properties in New York City, the historic Riverside Apartments, on Columbia Place between Joralemon and State streets, for review of an administrative decision denying its request for permission to build a parking garage under the courtyard separating the Riverside Apartments from the BQE (and in the process destroy several mature trees), was denied. Now, it appears, Pinnacle has another and potentially greater problem.

Crain’s New York Business: A federal district court judge has given the go-ahead for a class-action lawsuit to proceed against landlord Pinnacle Group NY and its chief executive, Joel Weiner.

Plaintiffs Marjorie and Theodore Charron, Andres Mares-Muro, Raymond Andrew Stahl-David, and Kim Powell allege that Pinnacle and Mr. Weiner have engaged in a wide ranging scheme to harass and intimidate its tenants and evade New York’s rent regulation laws with its properties. In addition, the plaintiffs charge that Pinnacle’s conduct violates the federal racketeering statute, RICO, and the New York Consumer Protection Act.

The article does not state if any of the named plaintiffs are tenants at Riverside, but the court’s certification of a class consisting of all rent regulated tenants in Pinnacle owned buildings as of April 27, 2010 means that any Riverside tenants meeting that description are plaintiffs, unless they choose to opt out of the class action.

Addendum: Does anyone know of any other Pinnacle owned buildings in the Heights or adjoining neighborhoods?

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  • admirer

    Claude, you may be retired but your legal writing skills ain’t rusty :). That 1dt sentence reads like the procedural history of an appellate brief. Throw in a decretal paragraph or two and yopu have yourself a party.

  • nabeguy

    Claude, do you happen to know if, among the 400 other Pinnacle holdings, any of them are in the Heights other than this one?

  • Claude Scales

    admirer (Gee, I’m blushing!): I kept thinking, “That first sentence is awfully complex”, but I was in a hurry and hit the “publish” button before I could take the time to simplify it. Retired? Sez who? Having a sixteen year old daughter means I’ll never retire.

    nabeguy: I did a web search, hoping to find a list of properties owned by Pinnacle, but there’s precious little there; mostly many iterations of the Crain’s story about the class action. One link seemed to go to Pinnacle’s own website, but it just led me to a mostly blank page except for “” at the top. Pinnacle is a limited liability company, and therefore not subject to the disclosure rules applicable to publicly held corporations. My guess is they’ve taken their website down since the litigation started. I’m putting an addendum on the post asking if any readers know of other Pinnacle buildings in this area.

  • william

    The Riverside Tenants Association has been following the RICO suit, and will certainly join the Wiener Pile-On. In 2004, Pinnacle stated to the State DHCR, in legal documents, that they restored the courtyard in 2003 by removing the asphalt and curbing that another landlord had installed illegally in 1991. One of Mr. Wiener’s other lawyers, Daniel Roskoff, (not Ken Fisher) even claimed that Mr. Wiener replanted bushes, trees, restored the water fountain, and even built a gazebo in order to restore reduced rents. Of course, they lied. The restorations were never done. Just last month, Wiener told some tenants that the restorations were approved last month (NOT) and he increased their rents. He is challenging 2 rent controlled tenants who have lived here for 50-years, and are disabled, to prove they are who they claim to be, and prove it – or get evicted. He has taken one Hispanic tenant to housing court 3 times for paying the reduced rent. She is a home-care worker, supporting her daughter and granddaughter on near minimum-wage, and has lived here for 30-years. Every honest citizen in NYC wants to see Joel Wiener in jail. (Yes, complaints were made to Spitzer’s Office, and Morganthau in 2006 when the fraud was discovered, but “deals were made” and Wiener got away with it, until now.)

  • william

    Thank you, Seth Murphy. For alerting your neighbors and the Riverside tenants of the Federal RICO class-action status. We are sharpening our swords and axes and pitchforks for the engagement.

  • william

    If you want to learn more about Pinnacle. Google – Joel Wiener Pinnacle Group. The i is before the e in the last name. Also read this article online at the Indypendant.

  • milton

    I am of the opinion that the tenants and the landlord here deserve each other. Caught in the middle is the beautiful historic building, which suffers the slings and arrows of both sides. There is something very unsavory about tenant landlord warfare. Some tenants feel thay are entitled to live in a perfectly maintained building for next to nothing or even for free, others pay market rates and feel they are subsidising their deadbeat neighbors. It is an unhappy place.
    The similar complex in Cobble Hill is going co-op. if the tenants feel they can do a better job running the building they should favor a conversion. You can’t expect a landlord, evil or otherwise, to run a building at a loss. The big picture concept that many fail to appreciate is that being a landlord of a rental building is not a charitable endeavor. It is supposed to be a profitable business -distasteful as that may seem to the old time anarchists and populists.

  • nabeguy

    Anarchists? Populists? What is this, the 1920’s? No doubt milton, the laws in place stink for both sides. But not enforcing them is the bigger crime.

  • RICO_ClassAction classroom

    ATTN: william and anyone else who knows of or has suffered such abuses. At a press conference held at the Dunbar Apartments yesterday, Pinnacle tenants in the class action RICO suit announced a “Class Action Classroom”, seminar and forum open to all 60,000 tenants who currently live in Pinnacle buildings in all Boros, and all others who have lived in a Pinnacle building between July 2004 and the present, including all those who have been harassed or driven out of Pinnacle Buildings. The goal is to educate tenants about their rights and how to obtain relief and damages as part of the class. Date: May 23, 2010. Place: Oberia Dempsey Center 127 West 127th Street, Manhattan. information? Call Scott Stringer’s Office, 212-669-8300 or the the law firm of Jenner & Block at 212-891-1600.