WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Usually I have to go looking for stories. This one came to me.
I was at the Nassau County Courthouse doing a piece on that STAR rebate schemer Arie Gal when Latoya Coote came up to me. She told me about some guy who is renovating abandoned houses in the West Hempstead area.
“He’s been breaking into homes fixing them up and then renting them out to people who are basically struggling.”
Sounds like a Robin Hood kind of thing, right? Except a few months after people get settled, Latoya says the guy comes around and tells them the landlord wants them out. She’s in court trying to fight to stay put.
Latoya lives in one of the houses. The Nassau County Clerk’s office confirmed the landlord is a fellow named Lawrence Bruckner. But no one can find him.
So I asked Latoya: “Who are you going to pay rent to next month?”
Latoya: “We’re not paying anybody rent next month.”
Howard: “Why not?”
Latoya: The town said there’s no one to give it to.”
We know this contractor’s name and the Nassau County Consumer Affairs Commissioner says he is not licensed there.
But we’re not going to reveal his name until we speak with him. Meanwhile, no one seems to be able to find landlord Lawrence Bruckner.
So, for now, with the county’s blessing, Latoya and others in her house live rent free. And the big mystery is, who is profiting from all this? Perhaps we’ll find out.