Semyon (aka Sam) Muratov, 34, and Yuriy (aka Erick) Munarov, 31, were each arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Monday night on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespass and unlawful eviction, according to the Queens district attorney,
“More and more we are seeing individuals who are dealing with distressed properties unscrupulously taking advantage of the situation to benefit themselves,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendants in this case are accused of taking the law into their own hands and bullying a homeowner into vacating his residence so that they would not have to deal with a housing court eviction proceeding.”
According to the charges, Muratov placed a $25,000 down payment on a home located on 111th Street in Richmond Hill during a foreclosure sale on Jan. 9 but the sale had not yet gone to closing.
On the same day, Muratov and Munarov reportedly went to the property and told the 59-year-old homeowner that he had to vacate the home because they had bought the house at an auction.
When the homeowner asked for a proof of sale, according to Brown, the men refused to supply evidence and instead told the homeowner he had to hand over the keys and that they would be back in a couple of days to make sure he had left.
Muratov and Munarov then allegedly returned to the property on Jan. 12 and when they couldn’t get into the home, they broke the doorframe and deadbolt lock, and pushed in the front door. They then told the homeowner he could take a few things and when the homeowner said he had nowhere to go, the men gave him $200 in cash to find a place to stay.
The homeowner left the property with some important documents and when he later returned he found all the first-floor doors and windows had been boarded up and chains were on the door lock areas of the front door.
“We are not going to stand for anyone circumventing the law. Our office is working diligently to protect homeowners and tenants who may fall victim to the various unscrupulous and predatory behavior in real estate transactions,” said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “People have the right to live undisturbed in their homes and these two individuals are accused of violating the due process rights of the tenant at the address.”
An investigation by the district attorney and sheriff’s offices revealed that on May 6, 2014, there was a judgment of foreclosure and sale on the 111th Street property, even though the homeowner said he was not aware of the foreclosure proceeding. Documents later allegedly showed that the homeowner’s estranged son was served the notice in 2012.
Although the mortgage lender had auctioned off the property on Jan. 9, Muratov would not assume ownership until there was a closing with full payment for the property and transfer of the deed, according to the district attorney. Even after the closing, there would have had to been a lawful eviction proceeding of the homeowner.
Both Muratov and Munarov face up to 15 years in prison if convicted and were ordered held on $5,000 bond or $2,500 bail. They are scheduled to return to court on May 5.