Jan. 16, 2018 By Tara Law
An Elmhurst couple was indicted Tuesday for illegally converting a single-family house into five single room occupancies, the Queens District Attorney’s office announced this afternoon.
The couple, Segundo Chimbay, 53, and Maria Chimbay, 52, charged tenants $750 to $1,400 rent each month to live in a single room at 40-33 Forley Street in Elmhurst. Fifteen people occupied the house and shared a common kitchen on the main floor, according to the District Attorney’s office.
The Chimbays, who live on 94th Street, were slapped with an 18-count indictment charging them with a variety of crimes, including fraud, reckless endangerment and 15 violations of the New York City Administrative Code. They both face up to seven years in prison.
The violations were first discovered on March 14, 2016 when a Department of Buildings inspector responded to a complaint and found that the house was illegally converted into multiple units and constituted a “specified immediately hazardous violation.”
The department subsequently issued a vacate order and the tenants were told to leave, according to the District Attorney’s office.
The inspector followed up on Feb. 15, 2017 and allegedly discovered one room in the basement, three SROs on the second floor and one in the attic. A re-vacate order was issued to the Chimbays for failing to comply with the original vacate order.
The following month, a Department of Buildings inspector and a Department of Investigations investigator went to the house and found the same conditions.
Despite the vacate orders, the Chimbays allegedly assured their tenants that the building was legal and continued to collect rent, according to the District Attorney’s office.
“The defendants are accused of trading the safety of their tenants for cold, hard cash,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown in a statement.
The Chambays have a history of illegally dividing houses and cramming people into them.
Segundo Chimbay was charged with reckless endangerment and other crimes in 2013 for allowing 46 people, including 12 children, to live in four of his properties in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, DNAinfo wrote at the time.
He pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless endangerment on August 20, 2014 and was sentenced on October 3, 2014 to 3 years’ probation, a spokesperson with the District Attorney’s office confirmed.
Brown said that today’s indictment is part of a crackdown on dangerous and illegal housing by his office, the NYC Department of Investigations and the NYC Department of Buildings.
Brown said that illegal conversions put a strain on city services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools. He added that they also “endanger the lives of building residents as well as firefighters and other personnel who, in responding to an emergency, would have been confronted by a maze of rooms with no way out.”
People should be able to rent apartments but with this rent increase for most of them is not possible, this is to blame our government and the people they don’t do anything to change this legal crime there is happening in New York
Hahahha they were working about the people and kick them all out, where? They were so worried to kick them on the street. This country is a big mess, no one realize that they didn’t care about the people they care about the lenlord making money and by the US rules they can’t have any money without government knowledge
You have houses being converted to rooms, a hazard for the firemen that might have to evacuate all these people. Nothing is said, cause the people living in them are illegal, so the landlords get away with this pressuring the tenants to shut there mouths and to put out their garbage in the city garbage cans on the corners of Roosevelt Ave.
That house looks like a slum. Who are these people to come here and turn our neighborhoods into overcrowded slums? These owners are criminals bringing down the quality of life and putting lives in jeopardy. Remember the fires at the illegal conversions in Wiodside and Maspeth a few years ago ?
With the overdevelopment in Astoria and the raising renta people are doing that in basements and many houses. Regarding the parking, schools and transportation, the city and community boards have no problem with it. Thousands more people and buildings without garages. Is getting overcrowded. At the Ditmars station the trains fill up so all the orher stations are a nightmare
Gee, I’m disabled and on the city housing list since 1995. I live in a SRO, I’d be homeless if I lost it. The AG is prosecuting people who are actually providing people with housing.
I’d be in favor of dragging everyone from the AG’s office and hanging them for the nearest lamp post. I’d bring a lawn chair, some pop corn and cheer loudly as they danced at the end of a rope.
This is happening all over Queens. There are at least five of these illegal SROs on my block alone. People are living in garage SROs.
We have been reporting these SROs for years. Nothing is done until there is a fire. Then everyone is outraged.
I lived in a 2 family house that was illegally converted to a 3 family for years. The landlord lied and said it was legal…yeah right…if you live in a place like this they arent legally allowed to charge you rent, btw. You can go online to zillow or property shark and find out the zoning info on your place.
“Brown said that illegal conversions put a strain on city services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools. ” That’s funny since they seem to have no problem over developing the city as long as they get their cut and can fine people for illegal parking.
“Brown said that illegal conversions put a strain on city services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools. ” The undocumented are also putting “a strain on city services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools. ”