Engineer Admission

A paragraph from the original offering plan submitted to AG & distributed to tenants
Public Record via FOIL

The Sponsor’s Engineer, has written building condition reports in several condominium plans of the landlord/sponsor. (see certification below) The reports are sworn/certified to be true and accurate and based on current visual inspection. None are accurate. In the plan for 66w138, his report could be disproved by viewing a virtual map. Listen to the video below – he admits he doesn’t know who looked at the building, and the reports are not true, nor based on current condition – as that “isn’t going to work for the buyer”. 

This Engineer also admits his reports are fabricated to reflect after the sponsors promised upgrades (also admitting it’s not the right thing to do). He claims the building truthfully requires “gut rehab” to convert, which means tenants have to be displaced –and his report dupes potential purchasers. He admits he made false statements and claims the Attorney General….Real Estate Finance Bureau is aware, and is contacting him. This, and approval of plans which are not true or accurate is not reflective of a city in need of the affordable, regulated housing. Conversion displaces residents and permanently deregulates affordable housing.

Below is that conversation, on tape and audio, and a transcript of it, copies of the sworn certification as to it’s “accuracy”.
Click here for the details regaring this Engineer’s false statements in the plan. The Sponsor who also swore to the report/plan, was not held accountable but allowed to hire another and correct. [UPDATE: new information was submitted since]

Confidentiality had been breached, in the videos, this Engineer seemed to seek me out and the property manager pointed me out to him (tape1 available).
Audio version is full, in the video I walk away for a minute in the middle.
[note: he claims we had spoken before, which is not true at all ]

(video https://youtu.be/NR9MXvBGU4M

Hear a clear version of part of the conversation here..

Transcript below:

TRANSCRIPTION OF CONVERSATION WITH THE ENGINEER, who placed  false testimony in the plan – that testimony claimed he visually inspected the property and the report reflected it current description. This conversation and the original complaint disputes that. (not professionally transcribed)

Oscar P. Walters, Engineer The 66 West 138th Street Condominium Plan

… I’m the Tenant Association President

Yeah, I think you’re the person who called me a couple of times

Who are you?

My name is Oscar Walters

(I did not call him a couple of times, I filed complaint to the Office of  Professions for claiming to have visually inspected the building, false  report/testimony in the condo plan, confirmed in this conversation. I
caused his engineering license to be under investigation.)

Oh Yes, hello.

I’m the engineer who works with the developer, the development plan and  uh I’ve been here
like a couple of times before…

Not before you wrote that…Not before you wrote that. You wrote that there were no trees on the property,   there are trees on the property. courtyard

Where are those trees.?

Well, he knocked one down in the backyard

Okay

It was certainly there when you wrote that, there are trees here (pointing to east side  of building)that are probably on the property line and the courtyard on the  side is not  a courtyard, its uh uh air-shaft and …there’s a lot of open areas over there too that  they ..closed up the old …

There’s a couple of things about ….in the plan. The report is not meant to be pre-construction work report -it’s meant to be what you see at the end of the  construction.. So,
what happens is that we looked at the building, in this case there was two  elements. There’s some violations on the building, failure to maintain, which is like the wall needs to be pointed
and the parapets.

You’re not even seeing that side, it’s very bad.

Well, it’s hard to see that side but that’s the stuff ..that’s stuff that’s gotta  be done, I mean.
That’s why I had the developer hire another engineer, because I didn’t think, .it was.. That wasn’t part of my … I wasn’t working on stuff like that, and  he’s gotta get that done.

I’m thinking you know, there’s work to be done, you gotta do that work,  when the work is done I’m gonna come back and take a look at it.

In the interim, as you know, nothing ever works the way we planned, so  developers and everybody has big money and stuff like that so, I don’t know if the  apartments are sold already or not but, and I think it’s a rent controlled building right? So, you

Stabilized

So you gotta have HPD permission and .and all that kind of stuff. So, at the  end of the day, there’s work that’s been done, the work is not yet complete. I don’t know why it’s taking so long.
This is about the eighth time I’ve been here. The reason why I’m familiar  with this building is …that’s my church, Union Congregational, back…You and I had this conversation

(no, we absolutely did not have that conversation)

The Reverend …he’s passed away now, I don’t know if you …..but, uh, this is my church. So, I
know the area very well, this is back from the 70s, the 80s, 90s I know the  area well. So, I felt comfortable coming here and trying to do a good job for the building, but  anyway, bottom line is, there is work that has to be done that has not yet been completed …..from the reports I’m given. I mean, I’ve told the developer what he has to do, when he’s done, I  have to come back
and look at it . These guys, they’re taking a long time, it’s been like maybe  three years …Before, that the previous owner, they had violations in place in 2014, 2016 …you know, it has been in a bad condition for a long time. My mission here today is to see exactly what hasn’t been done.

My report was, says, it’s (pre) assuming, which is never a good thing to do, that the developer was gonna do the right thing, was gonna do the work….stuff like the pointing of the wall, the waterproofing of the wall, there’s  apartment 1c has not been fixed yet,

No, neither have 4a and 5a

[GO TO OTHER TENANT/WITNESS TAPE, I WALKED AWAY FOR A  MINUTE]

..Right, so there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re a long ways away from  getting it done. I don’t know why, would motivate him to do it faster, but, there’s stuff that has to be done.

(P.S./Tenant:) So nothing can move forward until those apartments are  fixed?

Well. No, when you say nothing can move forward in regards to what, what aspect?

In regards to making small crappy repairs throughout the building. Nothing can move  forward until those repairs are made?

Yeah, repairs  gotta be done.

So, if they do something illegally, what happens?

So, They’re trying to convert the building, but it’s a rent control building  [rent stabilized].
Legally, I don’t know what the process is. I know there are some things they can not do and some things they can do. They can not displace the tenants.

Well, they’ve been trying that.

Well, they are gonna try because they want to raise the rents. But, that’s not going to be easy for them to do, because it’s occupied. …statement that’s it’s an occupied  building and says that you’re not going to displace tenants. So, it’s very difficult for them to do that.

[I RETURN]

He was asking what next steps were. I was saying that we now have to get  the repairs done, and ultimately the building is going to become a condominium, right now it’s in the hands of the Department …Attorney General and you’ve been making complaints so they’re very vigilant
in
looking at what’s going on. So they’re holding us to a little bit of a higher  standard than they normally would be required.
So that’s why I’m here again and we had another engineer come because I  said, I don’t want to be the only, let’s have a second opinion. So there’s another Engineer, came last week. They did a report, there’s some other repairs that they want to have done.

So, it’s gonna be, it’s a process, I mean I don’t know how much time it the  developers, the sponsors are going to need to fix everything, but I mean, everything has to be fixed. That’s the first step. Second of all, …

1C is a hazard, it’s a hazard, did you see it?

Yeah, I was in there, it’s a gut rehab, they gotta…

That’s not what the permits says, they’re for kitchen cabinets and  bathroom  renovation. That’s well beyond the scope of the permits.

I’m not…

That’s dangerous

Wait wait wait, I’m not the engineer for the rehab, I’m just the engineer for reviewing the work that’s done, and seeing if it’s done properly …

If the application for the repairs is just for kitchen and bathroom then it’s not, obviously that’s not good enough because…I mean it’ s not rocket  science, these buildings are very old and
what happens is that over time you get what we call wet floors, bathrooms and kitchens, when you do rehab you gotta fix, down to joists, you gotta  redo the floors, you gotta redo the …
apartment, you gotta redo electric, the plumbing…

You need a permit for that, with license people, not Jose and David putting  electric in  with a breaker, that’s how my electric worked.

Yeah. Permits are a whole ‘nother story, ..you can’t pull a permit unless  your a licensed contractor. And when you do the work it’s gotta be done and somebody’s gotta inspect it

That never happens (laughing)

And verified …well  ..you may not realize it’s being inspected, it may not be  inspected properly, somebody has to take responsibility for signing off

Like engineers that are liars.

7:32 Whoa, I wouldn’t use that word exactly, but uh, a liar is an interesting word.

Well, alright …sue me (laughing)

Most engineers..I’m not …it may be, might be the other way around, but if I  could do things 
differently, whoever is responsible for signing off on the job, I don’t know who  that might be …probably a large …. company. The developer is not exactly, you know, a mom and pop operation . Over the years there’s always been […..] with developers. … The Attorney General, the Department of State they always have an additional eye on these developments. These
areas used to be… It’s not anymore. It used to be a working class area, it’s  kind of gentrified, gone crazy and you’re aware of that.They are trying to keep things under control. But, it’s difficult, it’s a free market you can’t tell somebody you can’t spend money and make the building better. You can tell them that you can’t kick us out though. That’s the law. ….. That’s … I’m sure you’re aware, there’s that section in the application that says…

Well, that’s not how it happens, ask the people next door.

Oh that building there,

They own that also

Yeah, I know they do, I don’t know, I mean

You know what happens

This is NY exactly.

Well, I’m gonna make sure it’s done properly…

And that’s a good thing, But you gotta be careful how you do that, because  you have to go to the right source… (gets call, Hello, …. down in the basement ….)

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know the developer personally, … obviously they just want to make money so the best thing ……I know he’s constrained by laws in what he can do and what he can not do ….

He’s not constrained. Since 2009, in a court case in 2009 he, they were  called  predatory landlords that push rent stabilized tenants out.

Right.

They have kicked out more poor people, more people of different  nationalities than  any other landlord, so they are not nice people, they are not here to just make the  building good. These are people that are predatory landlords. That’s what they are. So,  I try to stop everybody from, that’s helping the predatory landlords …I can’t go after  the
predatory landlords, obviously they have a lot of money to do this since 2009. At one point they (had) 3000 violations racked up, that the city was going to stop paying them rent. They use that to their advantage then they kick out the people that the city used to  subsidize …cause they stopped paying them. ….It’s a whole thing, they’re very slimy.

They know how to do it.

Yeah. My thing is everybody that helps them, that’s who gets …

Well, I’m not

You’re helping them to ruin..

I’m not helping… I’m doing a job. I’m getting paid for what I do. I mean, I’m not gonna help them to kick anybody out because on my end, they can’t do that based on what we do. You understand?

You write a report in a condo plan without actually …

What

When you write a report in a condo plan, it should reflect the truth. The  truth.

Well,

I’m not gonna use that word

Well, it’s a technicality, in that the report is not meant to reflect existing  conditions,

You said you looked at the property

It’s supposed to reflect what’s gonna happen when everything is done

It doesn’t say that.

If you look in the certification, it says that.

[Not true, unless he/they changed it/it did not say that in tenants copy of  the plan]

That’s why they were sooo concerned about how many times I’ve been here. I’m not, I’m not …Donald Trump. I’m not  a rich guy on the block. I’m a  working class person just like you. I happen to be a professional engineer. I have a practice. I have a practice for over 15 years, This is what I do, this is how I make a living, this is how I feed my family. So I’m not
in the business of trying to … I mean there’s some people that I won’t work  for, not because I don’t like what I did, I don’t like how they work. Now, the guys I do condos with. I don’t work with the developers per se, for the sponsors….I work with the condo …?writer?… The attorneys

The Lichtmans?

NO not the Lichtmans, no no I don’t work for those guys either, or ……. None of those guys. I work for.the, they just do condos… So, my job in the process is to do a report that informs the buyers of the condition of the building ….now a building like this. This is far from what the report says it is, because it’s not been upgraded yet. My report is based on the upgrades and what is going to be done. Which in itself is a little bit of a, of a, of not the right, nah I’m not using the …it’s not… but that’s why I have to, I can’t sign it off until they do what they are supposed to do.  But, I’m not going to put in the report exactly the condition because it is not 
going to work for the buyers. ….So, the other thing we tell the buyers to do, remember, I’m getting paid by the sponsor. So my report I tell the buyer …..people living in the building,  you gotta get your own inspectors to look out for your interest, because I am advocating for the  sponsor. I’m advocating for the guy who is going to make a million dollars.  Right. So, you, as the buyer of the apartment, you’ve got to hire your own inspector…..we can even do it, it’s not a conflict of interest. You know we can do stuff for the buyers also  That’s what the Attorney General says anyway. They have said to me, it’s not right to say what the building is going to be, five years from now. It’s not right to say that and use that to get somebody to buy [in] the building. The stuff that bothers you is not the stuff, I’m really involved with. I’m not the applicant of record for
anything in the building. I haven’t signed any PW1s or …I’ve done the  subdivision yes, where I’ve said …this apartment is going to be…this is going to be the common place, this is going to be public space. I’ve done that application. I’ve written that PW1. I’ve written a report saying
what the building is going to look like …when it’s done. It’s gonna have  yadayadayada. It’s going to have this and that…Stuff that you mention, stuff like that gets sometimes gets messed up like that, like you said the trees…

How can you look at the property and the back yard and not see there is a  big tree out there?

I didn’t personally go into the backyard.

But you said you did.

I didn’t go into the backyard.

The report says you did….

Right, but…. Technically yes. I don’t, I mean, I have people work for me,  who come and do stuff like that, Maybe…

Then they should be fired.

Maybe they were fired already. Because, that’s, for me to ?verify/ this job,  I’m gonna spend a  lot of money. You know jobs like this, by the time I’m done, all of the lawyers, the legal fees …and back and forth, it’s going to cost me thousands and thousands of dollars, and it’s going
to be nothing compared to what we get paid for this job. 
It’s difficult to get sponsor to pick up your legal costs because that’s not the kind of contract  you have. I have to be licensed. I have to be insured…   The first level of defense goes to my insurance … They don’t like to pay anything
if it’s not a design element…this is not considered a design element, so I’m paying out of my pocket for all of the legal fees. It is what it is, life goes on

You seem like a nice guy, I didn’t want to get you in trouble but I can’t let  what goes on here go on. This keeps going on everywhere, you know what this city is going to be like in ten years? There won’t be a single, even middle class person going to be able to live here.That’s what it’s going to be like. And it’s people that help these sponsors that are doing this.

You gotta be careful. I don’t like the way you say help, because when they  come to my company to work for them, I charge them a fee, I tell them what it is that I can do. They can misrepresent what we tell them, yes. Sometimes you should be more vigilant … But it’s a catch 22, the fact is they hire me so I’m working for them.

I understand, you want the job,that’s what everybody says, … “it’s just my  job. It’s just my job” Everybody keeping their job and not standing up for what’s right, what a world it’s gonna be. ..

…There’s advocates for everybody. You’re advocating for[to] the Attorney  General .and their very concerned. It is not easy to get them to do stuff…I know this building they’re paying a lot  of attention to it. So whatever you’ve been doing, you’re doing a very good job, because they have been … I was away a couple of weeks ago, they called me. I’m oversees, I get a call from 
the Attorney General. It’s like crazy, you know. But, in any event. What it is  that you’d like to see happen with the building?

It’s gotta be done safely. Any and all construction has to be done safely. 1c  just leaving it like that, gutted and…that gas line is on and exposed. is a fire hazard. How did you get in there, by the way?

I ….

Because Department of Buildings has been trying to get in for a long time (I  thought)

It’s a…. building so Department of Buildings can’t just go in there. But I  work for the owner, so I …forgot his name…

JR that you were talking to before.

…Jonathon Ramirez. That’s who let me in..

He had the key on him.

He was in here when I got here so I guess, and there’s a super there also.

No one has the key

Is it occupied?

No, they were, the three apartments that were gutted, they’re not occupied  [anymore do to high rent increases]  The gas is still on, the electric. One month my electric, and you know the square footage, again that is also wrong in the plan.The square footage of each apartment.

How much square footage does it say in the plan?

Uh, I think mine was 400, or…not even close, I have two 10×12” rooms, add  in the closets everything else, I forgot what it was but it’s not even close to what… But, uh, I lost my train of thought, laughing, …the gas lines are exposed, the electric. One month in my tiny apartment… electric bill normally $80. a month. When they were doing, that apartment my electric bill one month was 134, then one-seventy-something, then it went up to 234. ….you are going to tell me they weren’t using my electric?

They probably were..

Of course they were. ….and that’s what goes on. That’s not right. I’m on a  budget, $234 is not on the budget.

Let me ask you something, so you would like to have the building fixed  properly?

It should be fixed. I don’t want it sold obviously, because we’ll be kicked out

Well, it’s gonna become condominiums…

They’re trying and I’m trying to stop that.

What is your…

It’s a rent stabilized building. This is an affordable housing building which  should not be taken off the market, those three apartments that are empty should be available to the public right now. That’s a law, they are trying to stop predatory landlords who destabilize apartments and that is what he has done with rent overcharge

(P.S./tenant: The apartments were fine, he just gutted them because he  wanted to warehouse them to not let anybody else in. They were rent stabilized.

(me)They were actually brand new, by the last owner.

The last owner he did…

Renovations, without permit.

(phone rings he/engineer answers}

So I mean my job, I’m not involved in the repair work, I”m just certifying  the building when it’s done is gonna be adequate. I’m not involved in the conversion, well, I am involved from a regular.

[OTHER TENANT’S TAPE, I WALKED AWAY FOR A MINUTE]

(P.S./tenant:) He’ s picking us off. ….I found this place, and everything is  just going away. These people are picking us off one by one as tenants. One couple has already left, another one is thinking about leaving. Someone left on the first floor already. He raises the rent so you can’t afford it, he just pushes everybody out because he wants to turn the building into condominiums and he doesn’t care what happens. It’s extremely dangerous, people walking in and out of the building. …people come in and out and sleep in the hallway. The roof is unlocked, people sleep up there sometimes. It’s ridiculous. It’s scary. Who wants to live like this? He just doesn’t care. AS long as he gets his way and kicks everyone out he’s fine with that. …seniors live in the building, people that are handicapped live in this building. He doesn’t care, the door is impossible to open with one hand which is ridiculous, which is unsafe. The lights are never on at night, The hallway isn’t lit. ….filthy…rats….

It’s not good.

Look what they did the door, they put holes in there, that’s a fire door. …. He let  somebody sleep in 1c. Who, what kind of person, would let someone sleep there? …

Yeah…

….[more] They were working in there at night, 2-3 am tools going really  loud, until  we  stopped them. ….

Illegal

It’s not illegal to do what they are doing, probably unconscionable what  he’s doing but…

They’re filing false applications left and right . That’s a crime. There’s one  in there  right now that claims there’s a different owner.

Really you gotta be careful with that sometimes these guys have so many  different…

I know I know

You may know .. You know better than me because I don’t know who the  owner is..

I understand they have a web of

Yes they do…I’ve done construction work where it turned up in court and  the owner is not the person on the paperwork. It’s like amazing how these guys shuffle themselves…

That in itself is against the law.

How is that against the law?

You are not supposed to confuse commerce. Which is why I brought it to  that level.  Because in the city… Nothings going to happen…. I put in a ________ claim…

That’s why, you created a lot of stir

And I’ve created a lot more. He’s going to…. everywhere I found an  infraction I …

Somebody’s gotta advocate…I hope at the end of the day the building stays with the tenants. I mean, we’re fighting, but I understand what you are  doing…..So I’m glad to meet you finally, I’ll probably be back again because I don’t know how long it’s gonna take. . I gotta talk to the attorneys today and see exactly what. ..We gotta fix the place ….. I don’t know whether or not; I’m not involved in the conversion. Yes, I’m working for the  conversion elements, but in terms of whether it’s going to get done or not get done, I don’t know but I’m going to do what I can to make sure…if it gets done, it gets done properly and nobody gets kicked out of the building.
That’s a legal requirement on the application that …I think it’s ultimately  going to become a condo. The question becomes if they become the owner of the condominium, if your maintenance charges are going to be more than what your rent, stuff like that.

In a million years you couldn’t get me to, If I had a million dollars you  couldn’t ‘get  me to pay 3-400thousand for this apartment. It’s not worth it.

It’s gotta be fixed, I mean, the buildings gotta be fixed. I mean…

Still a lot of issues here. Needs a boiler, needs, there’s a lot of things

There’s a lot of things, yes. The boiler I mean, it’s an old building, and he’s not refurbished the building.. Like I was saying to the other guy. You do a  gut rehab joist replacement. Boiler replacement. They’ll probably do utility closets in every floor so everybody has their own, their own washers and dryers and stuff like that. That’s usually what Department of Housing…
because either one or the other, you can’t raise the rent, so they usually give you a better house so after so many years it expires then they can raise the  rent.

They raise the rent without permission. There are people here are paying  $1800.

Yeah, they’re not supposed to be able to do that.

And that’s why I’m …….but anyway, nice meeting you

Like I said I’ll probably be back..[more]…..been around the area for a very long time now. Anyway, take care now.

—-end transcript—-