An Elmhurst landlord has been charged with endangering the lives of 46 residents, including 12 children, by renting them illegally converted one-and two-family houses and garages, the district attorney announced.
Landlord Segundo Chimbay, 48, has been charged in connection with renting out converted houses and garages in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, charging tenants from $850 to $1,4000 a month.
“In addition to putting a strain on city services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools, illegal conversion endanger the lives of building residents as well as firefighters and other personnel who in responding to an emergency are confronted by a maze of rooms with no way out,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
The Building Department’s Quality of Life and Queens Borough Enforcement Units had found alleged illegal conditions at a two-family house at 48-14 94th Street in Elmhurst; a two-family house at 35-39 92nd Street in Jackson Heights; a two-family house at 35-41 92nd Street in Jackson Heights; and a one-family house at 40-33 Forley Street in Elmhurst.
Chimbay is presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges including first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree reckless endangerment and violation of the New York City Administrative Code for failing to comply with an order to vacate. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
“Illegal conversions can kill, and this arrest sends a clear message that property owners who create these dangerous living conditions will face serious consequences,” said NYC Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.
In addition to the criminal charges, Chimbay has been named as a respondent in a $1.6 million civil asset forfeiture action for allegedly failing to comply with prior vacate orders and building code violations. The suit was filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney’s Special Proceedings Bureau, said Brown.
The Red Cross is temporarily relocating and providing shelter for the 46 tenants due to the reported dangerous situations at the homes, including fire hazards, illegal construction, unauthorized gas lines and many others.