Landlord accused of gutting a building with tenants still inside

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NEW YORK - A landlord, property manager and contractor are accused of driving a rent-stabilized family out of their Manhattan apartment by demolishing the building around them.

Forty-eight-year-old building owner Ephraim Vashovsky, property manager Adam Cohen and contractor Shaoul Ohana pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Authorities say an agent of the landlord would bang on the family's door threatening to report them as immigrants in the country illegally.

Prosecutors say the residents were the last rent-stabilized holdouts in a building undergoing renovations in 2015 so the landlord could attract higher-paying tenants. Investigators say demolition work made the building unstable.

Attorney John Carman says Vashovsky has been "wrongfully accused by a non-paying tenant."

Cohen's attorney, Aaron Twersky, said the city's "narrative is not entirely accurate."

Attorney Robert Wolf says Ohana is cooperative and not guilty.

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