Photo: AP

An investigation has accused former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen of pushing out rent stabilized tenants in New York apartments. The Housing Rights Initiative (HRI) reports that Cohen faked documents so it would appear that no one lived in his buildings in order to get construction permits. The construction was used to push out the remaining tenants, and destabilize the apartments. Using these alleged methods, he was able to sell three buildings he bought for $10 million for $27 million.

The Guardian writes:

Cohen, through a managing agent, filed for construction permits claiming that the buildings were vacant and had no rent-stabilized tenants – when in fact dozens of such tenants were living there, according to tax records...

In Cohen’s case, he made a $17m profit selling the three buildings after purchasing them through a shell corporation based out of his condo and owning them for just a few years. During the time he owned the buildings, more than two dozen rent-stabilized tenants moved out, and their apartments were converted to much more lucrative market rate units, the group found.

These allegations are very similar to those made against President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s company last month, by tenants also working with HRI. “Like the Kushner Cos, Cohen was playing a game of real estate roulette,” said the Housing Rights Initiative executive director, Aaron Carr, told The Guardian. Kushner’s former tenants are now suing the company. As in Kushner’s case, Cohen’s tenants complained about noise and dust from construction that was allowed thanks to the falsified documents.

Carr said this behavior from landlords is depressingly common. “A culture of real estate corruption has taken root in New York state,” he told The Guardian. The net number of rent stabilized apartments in New York City has dropped by more than 147,000 since 1994.

Cohen pled guilty last week to charges of making illegal campaign donations by paying off Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. Good thing our President only surrounds himself with the best people!