Landlord gets 44-life for attempted murder

By James DeWeese

Landlord Juan Basagoitia, a 50-year-old bricklayer who bought the Ithaca Street brownstone in 1997, was convicted in December of attempted murder and a raft of other charges in connection with the March 2003 knife attack that left the brothers with disfiguring injuries. On Jan. 26, Queens Supreme Court Justice John Latella sentenced Basagoitia to 44 years to life in prison.”Juan, when I think of the death you had planned for my brother and I, that the last images we were ever supposed to know were those of David Robles and Danny Machuca cutting us open, as if we were boxes, I can't help but wish you an ugly death as well,” William Lavery, 35, told a judge inside a Kew Gardens courtroom as he faced his former landlord.”I hope you die lonely, miserably in a jail cell in upstate New York,” William Lavery wrote in a letter that he read to the court. His brother, David, 40, also made an impassioned plea for the judge to lock Basagoitia up and throw away the key.”I am asking you today to give him the maximum penalty allowed to this monster so he may stay in prison for the rest of his natural life,” said David Lavery, who has undergone several surgeries and exhausting physical therapy sessions during his recovery.The two downstairs tenants Basagoitia hired – Robles, 36, and Machuca, 28 – already were found guilty of shimmying up an outside fire escape, sneaking into the Laverys' apartment and stabbing them as they slept. Robles was convicted of attempted murder, assault and other charges and sentenced to 40 years to life in jail. Machuca pleaded guilty and testified at the trial in exchange for an eight-year sentence.Basagoitia took out a $207,000 mortgage in 1997 to buy the three-story brownstone at 40-18 Ithaca St. where brothers William and David Lavery had been living in the rent-controlled three-bedroom apartment since the 1960s. They inherited the lease from their family.”The building has had several landlords who, through the years, bought the building intending to evict my family from our home and profit handsomely in the process,” William Lavery said. “Juan was no different.”Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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