New York City man accused of claiming false ownership of iconic New Yorker Hotel

ByAaron Katersky WABC logo
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Man arrested for allegedly trying to steal iconic New York City hotel
Jim Dolan has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A New York City man was arrested for allegedly falsely and repeatedly claiming ownership of an iconic hotel in Manhattan.

Mickey Barreto is charged with 14 felony counts of filing a false instrument and 10 misdemeanor counts of criminal contempt after prosecutors said that, for years, he filed false property records purporting to secure ownership of the New Yorker Hotel.

Barreto allegedly registered the building in his name, and demanded rent from tenants and attempted to evict a previous owner.

"As alleged, Mickey Barreto repeatedly and fraudulently claimed ownership of one of the City's most iconic landmarks, the New Yorker Hotel," said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. "We will not tolerate manipulation of our city's property records by those who seek to scam the system for personal gain."

In 2018, Barreto booked a room at the New Yorker Hotel for one night in June. The next day, he requested the hotel enter into a lease agreement with him for the room pursuant to New York's rent stabilization law. When the hotel refused, Barreto left his belongings inside the room and left. Afterward, he filed a lawsuit in housing court claiming he was wrongfully evicted from the hotel and was granted possession of a room due to a quirk in the city's rent stabilization laws.

According to court records, Barreto uploaded falsified property documents onto the New York City Department of Finance's Automated City Register Information System, known as ACRIS, including a fraudulent deed purporting to transfer ownership of the entire New Yorker Hotel from a religious organization, the Unification Church, to himself.

Barreto then began representing himself as the owner of the hotel, including demanding rent from one of the hotel's tenants, registering the hotel under his name with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for water and sewage payments, and demanding the hotel's bank transfer its accounts to him. He also contacted the hotel's franchisor, Wyndham, and began talks to have the franchise transferred to him.

The real hotel owner filed a lawsuit against Barreto in New York County Supreme Court and successfully obtained an order forbidding Barreto from making further false filings or holding himself out to be the hotel owner. He unsuccessfully appealed the decision and continued to represent that he owned the building.

Prosecutors said Barreto continued to file false documents well into 2023.

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