ELMHURST, Queens — A Queens landlord accused of cramming 15 people into a single family home was previously prosecuted for dangerous illegal conversions.
Segundo Chimbay, 53, and his wife, Maria Chimbay, 52, allegedly converted an Elmhurst house into five single room occupancies and collected $750 and $1,400 a month
“The defendants are accused of trading the safety of their tenants for cold, hard cash,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “In addition to putting a strain on City services, such as parking, transportation, waste disposal and schools, illegal conversions endanger the lives of building residents as well as firefighters and other personnel who, in responding to an emergency, would have been confronted by a maze of rooms with no way out."
Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters said he has a "serial disregard" for city building codes.
A vacate building order had been issued for the building, but the Chimbays allegedly ignored it. They told their tenants the residence was legal to live in and continued to collect the tenants’ rent despite the vacate order.
Vacate orders are issued as a last resort when there's an immediate risk to tenants safety, Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said. Illegal apartments lack basic safety standards.
"Putting renters back in dangerous living spaces, as the defendants are alleged to have done, shows complete and utter disregard for people’s lives," Chandler said.
The Chimbays each face up to seven years in prison. Mr. Chimbay's probation for reckless endangerment in a 2013 case recently ended.