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Howard sees a familiar perp busted again

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NEW YORK — He’s baaaack.

About three years ago we started doing stories about a guy named Nathan Smith. Our stories helped get this pest off the streets. He was taking money for rental apartments advertised on Craigslist. The only problem was the apartments weren’t really available and Nathan kept the money. After we did a couple of stories, the NYPD busted Nathan. He ultimately made restitution.

But recently we received some emails from people who said Nathan Smith was up to his old tricks. He’d taken their money. One of them is John Palladino. He gave Nathan $975. John never got the promised apartment and Smith only refunded $400. John really wanted to see Nathan busted again even more than he wanted the rest of his money.

And a few days ago, John got his wish. The folks at the 84th precinct in Bushwick did the honors this time.

We thought Smith might really face some problems because in a way he was personally taking a poke at the DA. After all, DA Ken Thompson personally had handed out the restitution checks to Smith's victims last time.

So we were pretty surprised when the day after the police busted Smith we heard he would not be prosecuted. Prosecutors dropped grand larceny charges.

John Palladino’s reaction: “I’m hoping that everything comes to light and justice is served because it’s not just the money he owes me…. It’s not just paying me back the remaining amount and getting away with it because he’s going to continue doing it.”

We’re going to keep watching. And we won’t be surprised if we meet Nathan Smith again.

In the meantime, we know it’s tough to find an apartment in the city. But don’t rush into anything and check out the person you’re dealing with. Oh, and take a look at the video here so you know what Nathan Smith looks like.