City sues over $20M Airbnb scheme

Three buildings in Kips Bay, including 207-215 East 27th Street, were named in a lawsuit against a Manhattan brokerage firm, with the city alleging they were being marketed as short-term rentals. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, the city sued a Manhattan brokerage firm, Metropolitan Property Group, as well as real estate agents and entities currently or formerly associated with Metropolitan, accusing them of running a $20 million illegal short-term rental scheme.

The rentals, arranged mostly through Airbnb, were spread across 130 apartments in 35 buildings, the city said. Five of the buildings were listed in the lawsuit, three of them located in Kips Bay at 207-215 East 27th Street, 230 East 30th Street and 218 Third Avenue. Another was in Midtown East at 123 East 54th Street and another building in Harlem, 200 East 116th Street, was completely transformed into an illegal hotel, according to the lawsuit filed by the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE).

OSE said it was also able to determine that 18 entities affiliated with MPG and its employees received at least $20.7 million for short-term rental transactions made through Airbnb alone from 2015 to 2018. Named in the suit were Metropolitan CEO Sami Katri, his wife Shely Katri, Maxim Beckman, Simon Itah and Alon Karasenty.

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Woman raped, tied up in E. 14th St. apt.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

An East Village woman was raped and tied up inside her East 14th Street apartment over the weekend, police said.

Police said a 20-year-old woman woke up in her apartment between First and Second Avenues on Saturday around 2:30 a.m. to a man standing over her demanding money. According to the New York Post, the man was masked and dressed in black and said, “Shut up and do what I say or I’ll point something at you,” then sexually assaulted her.

The woman said that after he raped her, he demanded to know how much money was in her bank account because he needed $1,000 and when she said that she didn’t have that much, he reportedly bound her with duct tape, the Post said.

Police said that he took her iPhone, laptop and credit card before fleeing her apartment. According to the cops, the woman was able to free herself from the tape and when she couldn’t find her phone, ran into the nearby Papaya Dog at the northwest corner of East 14th Street and First Avenue to call the police around 3 a.m.

She was treated at nearby Beth Israel Hospital and has since stopped cooperating with police in the investigation. No arrests have been made.