Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the felony guilty plea of real estate attorney Eduard Fridman to securities fraud.
Fridman admitted in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to forging six condominium plan acceptance letters from the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau and filing certain of them with the New York City Department of Finance.
The forged documents allowed Fridman’s blameless clients, the condominium developers, to sell apartments to the public while evading the Attorney General’s regulatory oversight.
Under an agreed-upon plea deal, Fridman, 36, will surrender his law license and pay the State $100,000 in civil penalties, fees and costs. In addition, Fridman has accepted a permanent injunction from working in the securities or condominium businesses in New York and faces five years’ probation.
“It’s shocking that a member of the bar would forge the signatures of attorneys in my office to fraudulently sell condominiums to the public,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The real estate lawyers and professionals in my office are here to protect condominium and co-op buyers from fraud, and it will remain our priority to prosecute unscrupulous lawyers like Fridman who undermine the public trust with false filings and forgeries.”
Fridman, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty today (Tuesday) before New York Supreme Court Justice Melissa C. Jackson to one count of felony securities fraud, a Class E felony, under New York’s securities law, the Martin Act. By law, an attorney who commits a felony in New York is automatically disbarred for a period of at least seven years.
Fridman admitted to forging the six letters purported to be issued by four Assistant Attorneys General working in the Real Estate Finance Bureau. He submitted three of those forgeries to the Department of Finance in order to establish tax lots for the apartments that were to be sold to the public. It is unlawful for a developer to market or sell condominiums in New York without a condominium plan acceptance letter issued by the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau.
The other three letters were sent to his clients. Rather than submitting to the Attorney General proper condominium plans, Fridman forged the acceptance letters in order to create the appearance, to his clients and to homebuyers, that these condominium plans were in complete compliance with the law.
The forged documents are dated from December 2010 to June 2012 and relate to the following condominiums in Brooklyn: 282 Troy Avenue; 26 & 28 Bay 50th Street; 137 St. Nicholas Avenue; and 2830 West 16th Street. He also forged a letter relating to condominiums at 2-03-17 27th Avenue & 26-37-41 2nd Street in Queens.
Fridman’s scheme was discovered in December 2012, when one of the developments changed hands and counsel for the new developer submitted one of the forgeries to the bureau. Fridman’s forgeries were designed to create 88 illegal residential condo units. Eleven of these units sold, and Attorney General Schneiderman’s office has taken corrective measures to ensure that homeowners in these developments have legal title to their apartments. Fridman is obligated under the terms of his plea deal to pay the legal fees associated with any further necessary corrective measures.
Senior Investigator Richard D. Friedman assisted in the investigation, under the supervision of Deputy Chief of Investigations John McManus and Chief of Investigations Dominic Zarrella.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Benjamin J. Mantell, of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, Elissa Rossi, of the Real Estate Finance Bureau and Jeffrey R. Rendin, Chief of Enforcement of the Real Estate Finance Bureau, under the supervision of Gail Heatherly, Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, Marissa Piesman, Bureau Chief of the Real Estate Finance Bureau, Executive Deputy Attorney General of Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan and Executive Deputy Attorney General of Economic Justice Karla G. Sanchez.