Residents at a Sunnyside condo claim to be dealing with a dictator of their own.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer rallied in front of 47-55 39th Pl. with local community leaders to call for an immediate investigation into the building’s property manager, Neal Milano, who has decked out the building’s lobby in some disturbing imagery and allegedly harassed tenants for years.
The lobby itself is covered in posters that pay tribute to dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini, as well as the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump. Still, interspersed among those images are quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President George Washington and William B. Travis. Two 10-foot-tall statues of Uncle Sam flank the entryway doors.
Residents of the building, who were afraid to speak to or appear in front of the press in fear of retaliation, have expressed their fears to the councilman in the days since the story first broke earlier this week on NY1 News.
Van Bramer said tenants have alleged threats of outrageous fines, eviction and even physical violence for filing harassment reports with police or for minor offenses, including recycling errors. One resident whose mother was convalescing in her apartment also alleges she was even charged $100 a day to permit her stay.
More recently, residents told Van Bramer, the property manger has taken to slapping Trump stickers on the doors of residents who have rubbed him the wrong way.
“I think that this neighborhood is a beautiful, diverse place — a progressive place — that values every single individual who lives here,” Van Bramer said. “And I also know that what’s happening in this building is an affront to all of us. It is an absolute disgrace that there are Sunnysiders who are living in fear.”
The property manger’s “racist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant actions” take place on “almost a daily basis,” the lawmaker continued.
Another problematic feature of the “house of horrors,” as Van Bramer called it, is the building directory. Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and infamous Nazis Rudolf Hess and Josef Mengele are among the fictional residents listed.
“That is a symbol to every single person walking into this building that this is a place to fear,” Van Bramer said.
“There are more cameras in this building than in Fort Knox,” Van Bramer added. “And they are not necessarily to guard against someone breaking into the building. They are to watch and monitor the people who live in this building. That is chilling.”
Attorney Jacob Laufer has spoken to the media on behalf of Milano, who is said to be out of the country, and called the murals “patriotic” and “historical.”
“You can talk about World War II without having an image of Hitler giving the Nazi salute,” Van Bramer said. “You can talk about the history of this country without having so many images of guns inside this lobby.”
A lawsuit has been filed against the condo board and Milano, according to condo owner and attorney Lynn Calvacca.
“He’s a bully,” Calvacca said. “He’s a terrorist in this county, in this Sunnyside area … Everybody is so afraid.”
Calvacca said there are certain tenants in the building who call her once a week asking her for help.
“We have to end the terror campaign that is happening here,” Van Bramer said.
“The news is littered with stories of racism and bigotry on the rise throughout our nation,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “We like to think we’re in a safe haven here in New York. But unfortunately, these things are happening right here in our very own community, as well.”
Van Bramer and the community leaders said they are working closely with the NYPD to address the ongoing issues.