Affordable-housing scam: 3 women accused of accepting nearly $900K in bribes to take people off waiting lists
CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn — They took nearly $900,000 in bribe money that ensured that the people who paid it didn’t have to wait years on a waiting list for affordable housing, according to prosecutors. Now, the three women accused of the housing crimes are behind bars, and the investigation into their alleged wrongdoing is expanding.
Anna Treybich, 71, Irina Zeltser, 66, and Karina Andriyan, 38, were arraigned on a 78-count indictment Tuesday on charges of fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy, second-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and commercial bribe receiving, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
A judge on Tuesday afternoon granted them $50,000 bail each. All three pled not guilty, and await trial later this year.
Between Jan. 1, 2013, and May 6 of this year, the women are accused of taking payments for at least 18 apartments at the Luna Park Houses apartment complex in Coney Island ranging from $10,000 to $120,000.
In exchange for the bribes, they allegedly prepared and submitted false, forged and fraudulent document to the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), giving them priority over other eligible applicants.
In total, the district attorney said, the three women took in $874,000 in bribes.
With the money, they not only bought high-end luxury items, including furs, jewelry, shoes and clothing, according to investigators, they also bought real estate, including at least two luxury high-rise properties in South Florida.
Treybich was the president of the Luna Park Houses Board of Directors. Zeltser was the treasurer, and Andriyan was the office manager, according to investigators. Luna Park Houses is a Mitchell-Lama housing development. It falls under New York state government subsidies that promote middle-income residents renting or — in the case of Luna Park Houses, among other developments — owning apartments.
“These defendants allegedly conspired to corrupt the process by which eligible prospective tenants could have access to affordable housing in Brooklyn, and then used their illegal proceeds to fund lavish lifestyles. Their alleged greed cheated people who were entitled to apartments that instead went to those willing to pay bribes,” said District Attorney Gonzalez.
The investigation is ongoing, and it could extend to the people who allegedly paid the bribes, according to Gonzalez.
They could face eviction, as well as criminal charges, he added.
Luna Park Houses is a Mitchell-Lama housing development. It falls under New York state government subsidies that promote middle-income residents renting or — in the case of Luna Park Houses, among other developments — owning apartments. The five-building complex houses about 6,000 people and was sold at below-market value prices, therefore is in high demand.