BY KERRY BURKE and LEO STANDORA, STAFF WRITERS
NY Daily News
Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
A parade of angry and frustrated apartment dwellers complained last night of being pushed around by the Pinnacle Group LLC, a real estate company with holdings around the city.
They accused Pinnacle of overcharging them, dragging them into court for no reason, failing to make repairs, violating their succession rights and warehousing empty apartments to get higher rents.
Nearly 300 people from Community Boards 9, 10 and 12 turned up at the Cultural Center in Riverbank State Park for the joint public hearing. On hand were Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, but the words of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) most roused the gathering.
"What you're doing here is stopping a broader conspiracy to take our community away from us," Rangel declared.
"This isn't just Pinnacle. Developers and speculators have been removing tenants illegally from apartments which they return to the market at ridiculous rents," he said.
The chief purpose of the meeting was to collect testimony and documentation relating to investigations into alleged Pinnacle wrongdoing, which the Daily News has detailed in a series of reports.
The company had filed an astonishing 5,000 eviction proceedings since 2004 against tenants in nearly 20,000 apartments. But all suddenly - were dropped recently, within hours of an inquiry by The News about the particulars.
Thomas Delaney, who is in his 70s, disabled and barely able to walk, says fire drove him from his building in September. He said he lives in a shelter now because although repairs were promised, "little has been done."
Another renter, Bobby Jones, said Pinnacle has dragged him into court six times in six months over phony allegations.
"But I will not leave," he declared. "They can't make me. I'm not going anywhere." A Pinnacle official at the hearing declined comment.