NYC squatter arrested after standoff with homeowner in 7 On Your Side Investigation

Thursday, April 18, 2024
FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- A man featured in a 7 On Your Side investigation into squatters was arrested and faced a judge in Queens County Criminal Court Thursday morning.

Prosecutors are charging Brian Rodriguez with burglary, grand larceny, and other crimes.

"Criminal charges will be pursued when you unlawfully occupy someone else's home," said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

A 7 On Your Side Investigation that aired in March caused the Queens District Attorney to launch its own investigation which led to the charges a month later.

Adele Andaloro says Rodriguez and others moved into the Flushing, Queens, home in the middle of the night on Feb. 6 and refused to leave. She was in the process of selling the property she had inherited from her mother.

She noticed the problem when she showed up to the house to see the front door and locks had been changed.

"I'm really fearful that these people are going to get away with stealing my home," Andaloro told Eyewitness News when the investigation first aired.

Andaloro gained access to her home and changed the locks. Minutes later, Rodriguez pushed through the door and called the cops on her while cameras were rolling.

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7 On Your Side: Squatter arrested after standoff with homeowner

In New York, squatters have rights after 30 days. It's against the law for homeowners to change the locks, remove their belongings or shut off the utilities. It's handled as a civil court matter in the state, so police can't remove squatters.

After a standoff between Rodriguez and Andaloro, police arrived and arrested the homeowner for changing the locks, even though Rodriguez provided no lease or proof that he's legally allowed to be there.

"It's not fair that I, the homeowner, has to be going through this," said Andaloro.

Rodriguez told Eyewitness News he had a lease with a real-estate agent he wouldn't name and he refused to provide a copy. Instead, he showed receipts for work he claimed he had done to the home.

"How it ends is, she pays me my money that I put in the house," said Rodriguez. "Pay me the money and I'll leave or send me to court. It's that simple," he said.

When Eyewitness News arrived, multiple people were in the house. One of those men said he was renting a room from Rodriguez.

The unlawful eviction charge against Andaloro was eventually dropped and the Queens DA began investigating Rodriguez.

"You can't walk in when it's not yours and claim they have a right to be there," said the DA. "I thank the media for all the attention that they have given to this story and for being here today because I do think it's an important message to send."

Rodriguez faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

At least four lawmakers have filed legislation since the 7 On Your Side Investigation first aired to make it easier for police to remove squatters and to document how often it's happening. One bill was filed by a NYC council member and three senators have filed legislation as well.

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