BED-STUY – A forged eviction notice. A fraudulent 911 call. And now, an indictment. A Bed-Stuy man is being charged after wrongfully evicting tenants from their apartments on Lexington Avenue this spring, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced yesterday.
The saga started at 791 Lexington Avenue, near Malcolm X Boulevard, when Raymond Lewis, 54, allegedly passed himself off to tenants as the owner of the three-family building, able to collect rent and evict tenants at will.
In fact, the property belongs to an absentee landlord: Bartal Brooklyn Properties, LLC, which lists an address in Boca Raton, Florida.
Still, Lewis rented rooms to two tenants. According to the investigation, when the tenants found out he wasn’t the landlord, they stopped paying rent. Lewis started a court proceeding them in early 2018, listing himself as the prime tenant, with those individuals under him.
But before their day in court, which would have been March 28, 2018, Lewis conspired to illegally evict the tenants, according to the investigation.
On Saturday, March 10, Lewis allegedly called 911 on his tenants, telling police that they had previously been evicted and were now trespassing on his property, according to the investigation. When police arrived on the scene, he showed them two forged eviction notices from the Marshal’s office, one for each room. This time, Raymond Lewis had himself listed as landlord and the two renters as tenants.
When police saw the notices, they appeared legitimate—and they couldn’t double check, because the Marshal’s office was closed for the weekend. So the police ordered the tenants to leave the premises.
But when Monday, March 12 came around, it was a different story. The wrongfully evicted tenants called the Marshal’s office and confirmed there was no record of an eviction. The false notices had the docket number of a recent eviction a few blocks away, on Tompkins Avenue.
“This defendant is an alleged con man who pretended to be a property owner with the right to collect rents and evict people at will,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “This is just one of many types of housing scams that I am warning property owners to beware of as Brooklyn continues to soar in popularity.”
Now, Raymond Lewis is returning to court, but this time on a six-count indictment that includes charges for forgery, making a false report, and unlawful eviction. Of course, while an indictment is accusatory, it isn’t a statement of guilt, and Lewis will return to court in October to be tried.