A Federal lawsuit by three generations of women who lived in a Bronx, NY apartment accuses three generations of quirky New York landlords, Peter, Gus and Justin Gravagna of a “smash and grab” of their apartment and property in 2018 that left them homeless and without “all of their worldly possessions”.
Now the women have decided to take the Bronx “slumlords” to Federal Court for violating their Civil Rights.
The $10,000,000 pro se lawsuit spells out how over 20 defendants, including The Bronx marshal Thomas Bia and a court advocate and lawyer Della DeKay, conspired with superintendents and attorneys to enter the apartment through a kitchen window and remove the doors from the hinges, stealing everything they had inside and moving it to a storage facility, then later attempting to extort the family for the return of their goods.
“This was an eviction lawsuit going to trial. These guys decided they didn’t want to wait for trial, they wanted to be gangsters instead.” Said an advocate for the family. “What they did was absolutely inhuman. They even took these women’s passports and seized food from the refrigerator. And they did it with state actors. This is a major civil rights case, it’s also criminal.”
The lawsuit shows in evidence text messages by Justin Gravagna, the youngest of the clan, demanding $4,000 for the return of the items in the apartment, the goods he seized against court orders while awaiting trial in the matter. It also shows pictures of the apartment after the robbery, a scene one retired prosecutor says “haunts back to the bad old days when the mob ran the streets and put families out in the cold in the middle of the night.”
According to the lawsuit Justin Gravagna, the owner of Petina Moving and Storage, a Long Island company, is a repo man for the Gravagna clan, and the patriarch of the family, Peter Gravagna, also uses the name “Peter Kretasoulas.” The family operates 217 LLC, a real estate company that features buildings in Harlem and The Bronx.
The lawsuit names The Gravagna’s attorney Janet Goldstein of Hertz, Cherson and Rosenthal, as well as her firm, as defendants.
Goldstein submitted to the state eviction appeals court emails between her and The Gravagnas, alarmed about the completely criminal nature of what they were doing and alerting the thugs that they were still in court.
“But that was the end of it.” Said the advocate. “Goldstein never did the right thing. Neither did any of the half-dozen people working for the family at her firm. The lawyers never went to the judge and said ‘Your Honor, I have become appraised of criminal activity by my clients…’ Instead they became complicit. There should have been a point in time when they drew an ethical line, but sadly they helped these thieves cover up their crimes.”
The lawsuit seeks injunctive and declaratory relief, including that the landlords return the women their property. in 2019 the facility Justin Gravagna put the family’s possessions in, Cubesmart Storage, filed a crossclaim against The Gravagnas in The Bronx appeals court, citing Justin Gravagna filed false documents and gave false information about himself and what the purpose of renting the storage facility was actually for.
The case highlights a time in The Bronx courts of extreme corruption period . Although the court had made a favorable ruling in the interests of Justice, the order disappeared from the docket.
“I expected no less.” Said the family advocate, a Constitutional Rights expert. “Missing filings, alterations, all of that is common place these days. But now these want-to-be gangsters will have to answer to what they did. This time they picked the wrong people to do this to.”