Published: October 24, 2016
Publication: New York Post
By Emily Saul
A prominent Manhattan attorney who took down cameras he felt were unlawfully spying on his 94-year-old client in her apartment building has agreed to pay $700 restitution in order to end the drawn-out legal battle.
Lawyer Arthur Schwartz dislodged the surveillance equipment from above client Ruth Berk’s door in 2015 because he felt the landlord was trying to intimidate the elderly woman, and drive her out of her rent-controlled, penthouse apartment on Christopher Street.
Despite turning the devices over to to the Attorney General’s office, the attorney was still slapped with grand larceny charges because the equipment was valued at $4,000.
Schwartz agreed Monday to pay $720 in restitution, and the charges against him were dismissed and sealed.
“I would gladly pay a small sum again if it helped abate the harassment of an elderly person by a landlord,” Schwartz said.
Berk, a former cabaret singer who still lives in the $700-a-month Greenwich village unit with her daughter, was not in court.
Schwartz believes the landlord has been trying for years to evict the elderly woman, and the cameras were the latest in a series of 12 schemes to push her out.
Landlord Lloyd Goldman has alleged that the mother and daughter owe $27,000 in backed rent, but Schwartz has compared the building to a “slum,” and says Berk won’t pay until the many violations are fixed.
The Berks have lived there since 1961. A comparable apartment on the same floor now rents for over $7,000 a month.