Local Police Officer At Risk Of Losing Everything In Case Of Mistaken Identity

A Sheepshead Bay resident is getting some relief, as a Fox 5 news report spurs on the process to clear his name.

Flatbush-based Police Officer Igor Groysman never rented a storefront in Nassau County. He never stocked that store with wireless products. But Groysman still faces losing everything as lawyers and bill collectors hound him for another Igor Groysman’s debts.

Fox 5 News reported on Tuesday that Groysman was the victim of erroneous court decisions against another man, which ultimately led to his bank accounts being seized and a lien put on his house.

“It’s destroying my life and my family life,” Groysman told Fox 5 News.

The trouble began in 2005, when Groysman received his first summons for another Groysman, who also lives in Sheepshead Bay, for failure to pay rent on the Nassau storefront. The man also owed money to the supplier of wireless devices for the store. [UPDATED]

Groysman contacted the law firm listed on court papers to tell them they had the wrong man, but was ignored. The law firm continued to press on with the case, and a ruling was issued saying Groysman owed about $600,000. The court put a lien on the man’s house, and his bank, Citibank, received a judgement to take $80,000 from a bank account he shares with his parents.

That’s when Groysman contacted Novo Law Firm Ilya Novofastovsky, who made several attempts to inform the debt collectors and court that they were going after the wrong guy. Even the address didn’t match up.

“The biggest problem isn’t that they made a mistake,” said Novofastovsky. “It’s that they didn’t care.”

Novofastovsky still hasn’t been able to put the brakes on the process, as it continues to steamroll Groysman’s life.

“For justice, we know there has to be proportionality,” he said. “But in the system you’re so tripped up that it takes an enormous amount of resources to fight back.”

Novofastovsky’s efforts and publicity from the Fox 5 news report caught the attention of – lo and behold – the Igor Groysman the court is after. He contacted the firm yesterday and is cooperating fully to clear the innocent’s name.

“He felt real terrible about it,” said Novofastovsky. The lawyer said the bill-skipping Groysman had no idea people were looking for him, and couldn’t figure out why no one could reach him. The landlord and supplier he owes money to both have his contact information, driver’s license and social security number. “He’s actually being a stand-up guy about all of it.”

But Novofastovsky is still bewildered at how the process got this far against the wrong man.

“You expect grownups to be running things,” he said. “But obviously there weren’t.”

*Correction: The original story, and Fox 5’s story, indicated that Groysman’s partner Ronald Gillerman also owed money. Gillerman paid his share of the debt when the business went under.