331 STATE OWNERS CORP.
RASHEED LAMUMBA BRATHWAITE
Index No. 068245/1997
Affidavit in Support
of Order to Show Cause
State of New York, County of Kings ss.:
Sam Sloan, being duly sworn, deposes and says.
1. I am a tenant at 331 State Street, Apt. 4F. However, on Friday, May 23, I was put out of possession of the apartment by an interim order of Judge Jose Rodriguez. I am now appealing from that order. I wish the order to be stayed and that I be allowed to retain possession of the apartment.
2. I signed a one year lease with the managing agent on Monday, May 19, 1997. Because I had left my wife and child behind when I came from California in February, I arranged for them to fly out from San Francisco to live in the apartment. I also had the electricity turned on in my name and a telephone installed in my name.
3. However, on Thursday, May 22, at about 12:30 PM, the managing agent signed a stipulation with the mother of the previous tenant to the apartment, restoring the apartment to her possession. This stipulation was signed by Judge Jose Rodriguez of the King's County Landlord and Tenant Court.
4. When I found out about this, I immediately protested to the attorney for the landlord. When this proved to be of no avail, I went to the courtroom of Judge Rodriguez and protested that the previous tenant was being restored to my apartment. This occurred at about 1:10 PM, only about 40 minutes after the stipulation had been signed. Judge Rodriguez told me to go to the second floor and get an order to show cause, which I did. This order was signed on the afternoon of Thursday, May 22, and returnable at 9:30 AM on the morning of May 23.
5. After a hearing on the issues in which I, the mother of the previous tenant and the managing agent of the building all testified, Judge Rodriguez apparently ruled that the previous tenant had a greater right to the apartment than I did and ordered me to hand over the keys to the apartment.
6. I request that this order be stayed. I believe that Judge Rodriguez had no jurisdiction to do what he did, which was essentially to summarily evict me from the premises. Moreover, even if he did have jurisdiction, equity clearly required that I, the leaseholder, be given the apartment rather than the mother of the previous tenant.
7. One basis given for Judge Rodriguez's ruling was that he apparently believed that I and the managing agent were engaged in some sort of collusive action to oust Ms. Brathwaite from the apartment. However, this is untrue. Rather, the opposite is true. The fact is that, although I have done consulting work for the managing agent in the past, there has been a rising level of acrimony between me and his relatively new Japanese wife, which had reached the point where I could no longer do consulting work for him. The stipulation he signed restoring the previous tenant to the apartment was part of a collusive action by them to oust me. Almost simultaneously with signing this stipulation, the managing agent told me to "get out". In effect, he told me that I was fired. This is the reason that I immediately ran into the courtroom to protest my ouster from the apartment.
8. A further tragic consequence of these events is that at 5:05 AM on the morning before the ruling by Judge Rodriguez, my wife and eight-year-old daughter, Jessica, arrived on a Tower Air flight from San Francisco. They moved into the subject apartment, only to be told a few hours later that they had to be moved out. In effect, this rendered them homeless. I had no suitable place to keep them, so they flew back to California on Sunday, May 25.
9. This ruling by the Housing Court has caused tremendous disruption in my personal life. The beneficiaries of the ruling are the managing agent, who had apparently changed his mind about allowing me to live in the apartment, and the mother of the previous tenant, who testified that she now lives in her long term family home at 460 Lenox Road, Brooklyn.
10. The facts of the case are as follows: The managing agent at some time in the past signed a lease jointly with Rasheed Lamumba Brathwaite and his mother, Gail Brathwaite. However, according to other tenants in the building, Gail Brathwaite has never really lived there, although she has been seen coming and going from time to time. Rather, Rasheed Lamumba Brathwaite lived there with his wife and child. Rent was paid entirely by JIGITS.
11. Some time in 1996, the wife and child moved out, leaving Rasheed Lamumba alone in the apartment. Then, in November, 1996, Lamumba moved out. At that point, Gail Brathwaite, who maintains an office at 72 Nevins Street, which she has sublet to the Al Sharpton for Mayor campaign, stated that she was planning to move into the 331 State Street apartment, as it is only two blocks away from her office. Gail Brathwaite is the owner of several small businesses, including SIP Publishing Company. She put her company name on the mailbox at 331 State Street, Apt. 4F.
12. The landlord has never received any rent at all from Gail Brathwaite. The only rent received for the subject apartment has come from JIGITS. This JIGITS rent was to provide for Rasheed Brathwaite and his two-year-old son, but not for Gail Brathwaite. The welfare department has no record of Gail Brathwaite ever living in the subject apartment.
13. On April 6, 1996, the Department of Social Services notified the landlord that it would no longer be paying the rent to the subject apartment for Brathwaite. By this time, the tenant was more than $1000 in arrears in the payment of rent. The landlord filed a non-payment proceeding against Rasheed Brathwaite (but not against Gail Brathwaite) in early April, 1997.
14. Coincidentally, only a few days later, another tenant in the building, René Thompson, notified the landlord that there was a foul odor coming from the apartment. Nobody had been seen coming from and going to the apartment for some time. Gail Brathwaite had previously said that she was going away on a trip and had asked Rene Thompson to find someone to sublet the apartment. For these reasons, Rene Thompson asked the landlord to investigate the bad smell coming from the apartment.
15. Although, according to the terms of the lease, the landlord is required to have a key to the apartment at all times, the locks to the door had been changed. Therefore, the landlord was obliged to break open the lock to gain access to the apartment. Once inside the apartment, the landlord found only broken furniture. The electricity had been disconnected by Con Edison. Food was rotting in the refrigerator. The refrigerator was filled with maggots. This no doubt explained the bad smell in the apartment. The windows had been left open and rain was coming inside, causing possible water damage. The apartment had obviously been abandoned.
16. The landlord had his workmen clean out the rotting food from the refrigerator and kill all the maggots. He then installed a new lock to replace the lock which had been broken open. He locked and left the apartment. This happened on approximately April 12, 1997.
17. Approximately one week later, Gail Brathwaite called the landlord to complain that the locks had been changed to the apartment. The landlord offered to give her a new key. Gail Brathwaite refused this offer of a new key.
18. Gail Brathwaite took no legal steps to obtain recovery of the apartment. She did not institute any proceedings nor did she request an order to show cause.
19. On May 7, a hearing was held on the non-payment proceeding which the landlord had instituted against Rasheed Brathwaite (but not against Gail Brathwaite) in early April, 1997. Gail Brathwaite appeared pro se and complained to the court about being locked out of the apartment. The landlord gave the new key to Judge Rodriguez, who tendered the key to Gail Brathwaite. Gail Brathwaite refused to accept the key. The judge returned the key to the landlord. The case was adjourned until May 22.
20. Because of the totality of these circumstances, including the failure of Gail Brathwaite to accept the new key to the apartment plus the obvious abandonment of the apartment by the previous tenant, Rasheed Brathwaite, the landlord, on advice of counsel, leased the apartment to me, Sam Sloan, on May 19.
21. When the case came on again on May 22, this time Gail Brathwaite was represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services, which had just taken the case two days earlier. New counsel insisted that the keys be handed over to Gail Brathwaite. The landlord refused. The case was called before Judge Rodriguez. Judge Rodriguez, without conducting any fact hearing on the matter, directed the landlord to hand over the key to Gail Brathwaite, which he did. A stipulation was then signed which added Gail Brathwaite as a respondent. (She had not been a party of record prior to this stipulation, except that she had filed an unlawful eviction proceeding the previous day). When I got wind of this, I immediately protested to the court.
22. At the hearing before Judge Rodriguez on May 23, I introduced evidence showing that Gail Brathwaite had lived at all times at 460 Lenox Road and had maintained an office and a personal telephone listing at 72 Nevins Street. I offered into evidence a claim form signed by Gail Brathwaite in November, 1996 giving her address as 460 Lenox Road, Brooklyn. Judge Rodriguez ruled that all this was irrelevant because, by agreeing to add Gail Brathwaite as a respondent to the non-payment proceeding by stipulation signed the previous day, the landlord had recognized her as a tenant to this apartment.
23. I believe that this ruling was wrong. When I signed the lease and moved into the apartment on May 19, there was no court case pending between the landlord and Gail Brathwaite. The only case pending at that time was a non-payment proceeding against Rasheed Brathwaite. Rasheed Brathwaite had unquestionably moved out and is not asking to be restored to the apartment.
24. Gail Brathwaite was added as a respondent on May 22. At that point, I was in possession of the apartment. There is no dispute about that. I believe that it was illegal for Judge Rodriguez to summarily order me out of the apartment and Gail Brathwaite into the apartment.
25. At the hearing on May 23, Judge Rodriguez revealed that on May 21, Gail Brathwaite had petitioned for an order to show cause restoring her to possession of the apartment. Judge Rodriguez had refused to sign the order to show cause on the ground that she had refused the key to the apartment two weeks earlier.
26. At the hearing on May 23, counsel raised the issue of the failure of Gail Brathwaite to do anything with respect to this apartment in spite of being supposedly locked out on April 12. Judge Rodriguez rejected this contention, again saying that by signing the stipulation on May 22, all objections to the tenancy of Gail Brathwaite had been waived.
27. I disagree with all of this. I have the right to assert that Gail Brathwaite is not now and has never been a tenant in this apartment. I have lots of witnesses. I have spoken to almost all of the other tenants in the building. They all state that Rasheed Brathwaite moved out a long time ago, in late 1996, and that Gail Brathwaite has never actually lived there. They inform me that around two weeks ago, Gail Brathwaite came with a police officer to complain that "her" apartment had been burglarized. I do not know what was behind this. I have been able to find out that Gail Brathwaite is a litigious person and has been involved in numerous court cases.
28. At the trial or hearing before Judge Rodriguez on May 23, Gail Brathwaite testified that when she had finally returned to the apartment, she had found that the apartment had been ransacked and that her gold jewelry which she had hidden under the mattress had been stolen along with other items of great value.
29. It seems difficult to believe that anybody would leave gold jewelry in an apartment where the electricity and telephone had all been disconnected for non-payment and food was left rotting in the refrigerator. Rather, it seems obvious that this all has been a scam to extort money from the landlord. Gail Brathwaite offered no evidence whatever, other than her own unsupported testimony, that she has ever lived in the apartment. She has never paid any rent at all. The telephone and utilities have never been in her name. The telephone, prior to being disconnected for non-payment in April, was in the name of Lamumba R. Brathwaite. The telephone of Gail Brathwaite was at 72 Nevins Street, prior to being disconnected for non-
payment as well. Gail Brathwaite testified that she, her son and her son's wife and child all now live at 460 Lenox Road, Brooklyn, which, she also testified, was her family home where she has always lived except for the time when she was living at 331 State Street, Apt. 4F.
30. The testimony of Gail Brathwaite that she, her son, her son's wife and her son's child all lived in the apartment was unworthy of belief, because this is a tiny studio apartment barely large enough for one person to live in. It would be illegal for three adults to live in such a small apartment, not to mention a violation of the lease. Also, the apartment contained a pile of pornographic magazines featuring intimate photos of young black women plus a hollow point bullet. Gail Brathwaite denied ownership of these items. It seems likely that these items belonged to Rasheed Brathwaite and that he left them behind when he moved out.
31. For these reasons, I request the issuance of an immediate order to show cause staying all proceedings and allowing me to keep possession of the apartment.
32. No previous application has been made for the relief requested herein.
SWORN TO BEFORE ME THIS 27th
DAY OF MAY, 1997
SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE TERM: SECOND AND ELEVENTH
331 STATE OWNERS CORP
Index No. 068245/1997
Order to Show Cause
RASHEED LAMUMBA BRATHWAITE
Upon the annexed affidavit of Sam Sloan, sworn to on May 27, 1997, and the notice of appeal and upon all of the papers and proceedings heretofore had herein:
Let Petitioners and Respondents and their attorneys show cause before this court at the courthouse located at 111 Livingston Street, Brooklyn NY, Room 1901 on _____________, 1997 at 10:00 o'clock in the forenoon of that day, or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard, Why an order should not be made staying all proceedings pending determination of appeal and why such other and further relief should not be granted as may be deemed just and proper.
SUFFICIENT CAUSE APPEARING THEREFORE IT IS ORDERED THAT,
Pending the hearing and determination of this motion and the entry of an order hereon, LET all proceedings on the part of petitioners and respondents or any person acting on their behalf including their attorneys and agents and any Marshall or sheriff be stayed.
And, LET PERSONAL service of a copy of this order, together with the affidavit, exhibits and all supporting papers, on the Respondent or his or her attorneys on or before 5:00 PM on May ________, 1997 be deemed good and sufficient service.
JUSTICE OF THE APPELLATE TERM
DATED: MAY , 1997
Brooklyn, New York
CIVIL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF KINGS
HOUSING PART 18H RM. 407
331 STATE OWNERS CORP
RASHEED LAMUMBA BRATHWAITE
Index No. 068245/1997
Notice of Appeal
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the undersigned tenant hereby appeals to the Appellate Term from all parts of the decision and order of the Hon. Jose Rodriguez of May 23, 1997 in which he ordered Sam Sloan to vacate the apartment and in which he ordered the apartment restored to the possession of Gail Brathwaite.
331 State Street, Apt. 4F
Brooklyn NY 11215
DATED: May 27, 1997
To: John David Sherry
153 Remsen Street
Brooklyn NY 11201
Raun J. Rasmussen
South Brooklyn Legal Services
105 Court Street
Here is a picture of Gail Brathwaite's tenant: