This “Badass” group spelled bad news for at least a dozen first-time Soundview homeowners.
The homeowners charge that a series of development companies known collectively as the “Bad Ass Group” roped them into purchasing faulty homes that were not up to city standards, before leaving them on the hook for thousands of dollars in fines and potential eviction.
Now they’ve filed a class action suit seeking $18 million in damages on charges including fraud, conspiracy, breach of contract and negligence.
The angry homeowners announced the lawsuit in front of Bronx Supreme Court on Friday, Dec. 20, at a press conference led by State Sen Jeff Klein. The legislator is holding an open house Jan. 16 at the Hutchinson Metro Center to assist other potential fraud victims.
At least six different developers are being accused —Totaram Enterprises, Fama International Realty, JGA Realty Corp., Annie Kash Properties LLC and K-Town Inc.—but all operated under the umbrella of —yes, seriously—a company called Bad Ass, Inc.
The developers could not be reached for comment before press time.
Bad Ass exploited a loophole in city law to cut corners as it built stock homes, acquiring temporary certificates of occupancy from the Department of Buildings, the lawsuit alleges.
The DOB issued the temporary approvals after receiving a Letter of Completion from an architect or engineer, said the homeowners’ attorney, Andre Ramon Soleil.
But the developers did not follow the architect’s plans, instead building shoddy homes on the cheap, the suit claims.
Fines stacking up
Developers promised the first-time owners that they would receive a permanent DOB certificate within 90 days, but those permanent approvals never came.
Instead, the new homeowners had to deal with leaky roofs, backed-up toilets and busted boilers, among other complaints.
When the homeowners complained to the developers, they were referred to lawyers that were part of the scam, the class action suit alleges.
New homeowners were then responsible for the violations and fines that racked up. Some said that they are facing imminent eviction.
“After a year, I discovered that I had 18 violations in a brand new house. I asked myself how is this possible?” said Johanny De La Cruz, who bought a three-family home on Thieriot Avenue in 2006.
Luis Nieves, who bought a home on Stephens Avenue 11 years ago, said that the front steps leading up to his house simply fell apart one day.
“They just came off of the concrete,” he said.
Members of the lawsuit called on other potential victims to come forward. Klein’s office believes that the accused developers built homes throughout the Bronx and into areas of Queens.
“We need to make sure people are safe when they do something as simple as live the American Dream of owning a home,” Klein said, adding, “This will not be tolerated.”
Those interested in learning more about the Jan. 16 open house can call the Senator’s office at 718-822-2049.