Local politicians and tenants rallied on Aug. 5 against a landlord they claim has created unsafe living conditions at 350 East 52nd Street.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, State Sen. Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and building tenants as well as workers from 32BJ SEIU, the union that represents doormen and other building workers.
Landlord William Koeppel was one of a dozen building owners who were unable to work out a new contract with the union last year, so he fired the old building workers and brought in a new staff of temporary workers. Garbage piled up at the building because garbage collectors refused to cross the picket lines, bringing rats to the building, some residents claim. The new doormen have been accused of being less vigilant, harassing renters and, in one case, giving the key to an apartment to a person that they shouldn’t have.
“It was an ex-boyfriend,” said a resident who didn’t want to share their name. “She walked in and there he was. It was a scary situation.”
“When you have a relationship with a doorman or building workers, you build a level of trust,” Stringer said. “These are people who play a role in keeping you safe if you live within a building. That’s gone now.”
Krueger first became aware of the situation when complaints started coming in to her district office.
“This isn’t a tenement building. This is a market rate building in a lovely neighborhood and the residents are paying a healthy amount of money to live here. Until this labor dispute erupted they felt pretty happy, but since then they’ve felt continually harassed by the landlord,” she said.
“People are concerned,” resident Curt Swanson said. “His sloppy greed has gotten out of control.”
Koeppel passionately defended the building, saying it is in better shape than before and the claims are coming from a small percentage of the people who live in the building.
He said he tried to work a deal out with 32BJ SEIU but their extravagant wages and pensions don’t belie the current political and economic reality.
“In this economy, they are way overpriced and their work ethic is terrible,” he said. “I can understand why they are upset. They had a gravy train for a long time and it’s come to an end.”
De Blasio disputed that.
“The bottom line here is that he’s a greedy landlord who is making life miserable for his tenants,” he said.
Already convicted of fleecing his tenants to support his poltical pals in 1996, politicians say property owner Bill Koeppel is at it again.
BY JONATHAN LEMIRE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, August 6th 2011, 4:00 AM
A Manhattan real estate scion convicted of badgering tenants to give campaign contributions to Rudy Giuliani is once again mistreating his renters, elected officials charge.
William Koeppel is locked in a fight with striking workers at his E. 52nd St. building and reportedly has brought in replacements who have stopped cleaning and started threatening tenants, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio charged.
“This landlord once fleeced tenants to support his political pals,” said de Blasio, flanked by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Sen. Liz Krueger. “Now he’s squeezing every nickel out of workers and residents for his own profit. He does not have his tenants’ interests in mind.”
Koeppel pleaded guilty in 1996 to exchanging contributions to Giuliani for access to rent-controlled apartments. He is not suspected of doing the same this time – and he defended his building’s practices.
“The service level in this building has increased in recent months,” said Koeppel, who opted out of a deal with SEIU 32 BJ, the doormen, porters and maintenance workers union.
“These charges are not substantiated, but they are very easy to make,” said Koeppel, who dismissed the claims as the work of a few “troublesome” tenants.
Residents say the roof is littered with 24 cell towers and that the building has become full of trash and vermin. “This doesn’t feel like a safe home anymore,” said tenant Kirk Swanson, who lives in the building with his wife and two children. “William Koeppel revels in greed.”
Amid ongoing tenant protests, several elected officials urged the landlord of a Turtle Bay high rise to improve what they say are deteriorating conditions. (DNAinfo/Mary Johnson)
TURTLE BAY — An ongoing conflict at a Turtle Bay high rise escalated Friday, as several elected officials urged landlord William W. Koeppel to improve conditions in a building that residents say has drastically deteriorated in recent months.
State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio all spoke at the event in support of the tenants, calling on Koeppel to provide basic safety and security to the residents of 350 E. 52nd Street.
In June, the building saw mountains of trash pile up as doormen and porters went on strike. Sanitation workers refused to pick up the garbage in solidarity with the workers.
The bulk of the issues with the building, residents said, stem from Koeppel’s failure to strike a deal with the doormen’s union, 32BJ, last year.
Three thousand buildings throughout New York City have agreed to work with the union, but Koeppel is one of only 12 landlords who have refused, de Blasio said.
Now, tenants say there has been a rotating crew of different doormen, which has led to security issues. Several residents spoke of outsiders freely entering the building. And Kirk Swanson, who is spearheading the tenants’ protests, spoke about one instance in which an acquaintance of one resident was given keys to that resident’s apartment, without permission.
When the tenants emerged from the building on Friday, they all wore matching T-shirts printed with a photo of the building and the phrase: “We the tenants stand by our 32BJ building staff.”
Union protesters cheered when they came out. And the whole crowd erupted when Senator Krueger arrived.
Krueger found out about the issues at the building when Swanson, a friend, contacted her. The pol attended a recent tenants’ meeting to hear concerns and mailed a letter to William Koeppel on July 20 in which she noted the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, which requires that apartment buildings be maintained in a safe and habitable way.
“The conditions described by tenants at 350 East 52nd Street would likely constitute violations of these statutes and may entitle tenants to receive a rent reduction from the state office of Homes and Community Renewal,” Krueger wrote.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said that security was of particular concern, especially given the recent groping attacks and sexual assaults on the East Side.
“[Doormen] are on the front lines. They are the eyes and ears of the community,” he said. “There are consequences to putting people in harm’s way.”
In addition to the security problems, Swanson also recited from what he called a “voluminous” list of other problems and concerns, such as the garbage buildup and an increasing pest problem.
“For the first time since I’ve lived here, we’ve got rats…mice and now water bugs,” said Swanson, who has lived in the building for nine years.
Koeppel has been the subject of scandal in the past. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to pressuring tenants and brokers to contribute to the Giuliani campaign.
In responding to the current allegations, Koeppel staunchly defended his building and the quality of life it provides.
“Their concerns are unfounded,” Koeppel said in an interview. “These allegations are designed to get leverage in our negotiations with the union.”
He said the doormen he hired to replace the union workers are mostly former law enforcement officers and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has been a bit of turnover, he said, but the doormen are getting to know the tenants and strengthening those relationships.
Koeppel also said the problem with the trash stems from the city. Because sanitation workers have refused to cross the union picket lines, he hired a private company to remove the trash — a move he said went above and beyond what is required.
As for the bugs and rats, Koeppel acknowledged that he received a violation from the city. But he said the problem has been taken care of, and he has increased extermination services to four times a month.
“The building is spotless,” he said.
Koeppel said his negotiations with the union are ongoing. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 30.
(Note: William Koeppel blew off the last meeting he had scheduled with the union. It appears he’s found another stall tactic to employ while he blatantly lies to the media and anyone else who will listen. We encourage the media to look into William Koeppel’s claim that the new staff are ” mostly former law enforcement officers and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” It’s simply not true.
As for his claim that, “The building is spotless,” . . . take a look for your self at these very recent pictures:
08/05/2011 09:46 PM
By: NY1 News Video
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and tenants took on the landlord of an upscale Midtown apartment building, one of the last buildings to refuse to sign onto a contract for city doormen.
Tenants alleged the building’s conditions have slowly deteriorated since doormen went on strike.
Garbage is not taken out and strangers have been let in, according to tenants.
“It’s this basic message to William Koeppel: Do your duty, take care of your tenants, come back to the table and resolve this situation. That’s your job. It’s time to do your job,” said de Blasio.
The landlord, William Koeppel, is a former fundraiser for former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who pleaded guilty to soliciting contributions from tenants in exchange for rent-regulated leases in the 1990s.
He denied the tenants’ allegations and said he is currently negotiating a new contract for doormen.
Portrait of a Fund-Raiser: Seeking G.O.P. Friends
When Rudolph W. Giuliani first ran for mayor in 1989, William W. Koeppel raised money from everyone he knew. He even asked his tenants and contractors in his buildings for donations, amassing more than $100,000 for the campaign.
The young real-estate executive wanted to be sure he was the top fund-raiser at a dinner for Mr. Giuliani where President Bush was to speak, political associates said. The winner of the fund-raising contest would introduce the President.
The young real-estate executive wanted to be sure he was the top fund-raiser at a
Mr. Koeppel won, but the honor was not enough. During the dinner, he talked the President into giving him a ride in the motorcade to the airport, then letting him fly to Washington aboard Air Force One.
The leases raised questions about whether the apartments amounted to an illegal campaign contribution. But the disclosure also focused attention on a more fundamental issue: What does Mr. Koeppel want from Mr. Giuliani?
Mr. Koeppel, it seems, has a knack for getting close to Republican leaders. Last week that penchant landed him in the news when it was disclosed that he had provided choice apartments during the campaign and the early months of the administration to 15 Giuliani aides under leases that allowed some of tenants to put off paying rent for one to three months.
In recent months, city officials say, Mr. Koeppel has tried to influence senior mayoral aides on minor policy matters, from the cost of conventions to raising city revenues. But most of all, his acquaintances say, Mr. Koeppel (pronounced koh-PELL) has gotten immense pleasure simply from being associated with the Mayor, whose political style he would like to copy. Mr. Koeppel lost a race for Congress in 1990 and may still harbor political ambitions.
Still, it is Mr. Koeppel’s role as landlord that has gotten the most scrutiny. Like most major landlords, Mr. Koeppel’s company, Koeppel & Koeppel, has dozens of appeals to city assessments on his company’s properties pending in court, some going back as far as five years. Favorable settlements with the city could save the Koeppels tens of thousands of dollars in taxes.
Two weeks after Mr. Giuliani took office in January, city lawyers reached an out-of-court settlement with Mr. Koeppel on two of his appeals, agreeing to reduce the assessments on a Brooklyn apartment building at 140 Bay Ridge Avenue. The city agreed to cut the assessment on the building by $60,000, from $400,000 to $340,000 in the tax years 1989 and 1990. An Annual Challenge
Apart from that case, Mr. Koeppel and his father, Robert, have challenged the annual assessments on at least seven other buildings. The city will probably negotiate settlements in about five of those cases this year, rather than going to court, officials said.
The city Corporation Counsel, Paul A. Crotty, a Giuliani appointee, has tremendous discretion over the out-of-court settlements that end the vast majority of such appeals. But James I. Lauer, who heads a team of lawyers who negotiate tax appeals for the city, said the lawyers who handled the Koeppel settlement were holdovers from the previous administration and knew nothing of Mr. Koeppel’s role in the campaign.
Mr. Lauer said that major landlords challenge the city’s estimates of the value of their properties every year as a matter of course, and that no one is given special treatment. The corporation counsel’s office handles nearly 25,000 appeals a year, he said.
“This is not political,” Mr. Lauer said. “This is based on numbers.”
Mr. Koeppel and his father refused to be interviewed for this article.
Mayoral aides say Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Koeppel are not close friends. Mr. Koeppel is not, for instance, influential enough to have access to the Mayor whenever he likes. And in putting together his administration, Mr. Giuliani has hardly treated Mr. Koeppel as a favored son despite his financial support.
Senior Giuliani aides said Mr. Koeppel, who contributed $5,700 to Mr. Giuliani’s 1993 campaign and raised a total of $78,000, wanted to be named the Consumer Affairs Commissioner, a highly visible position that can be a launching pad for politicians. But in the end, Mr. Giuliani selected Alfred Cerrullo, a Staten Island Councilman, and offered Mr. Koeppel a lesser job — an unpaid position on the board of the Off-Track Betting Corporation.
“We didn’t even reward him for being a fund-raiser,” said the campaign aide, who requested that his name not be used. “We certainly wouldn’t reward him for giving apartments to low-level campaign staff.”
Members of the Koeppel family say Mr. Koeppel’s eagerness to please Mr. Giuliani flows not only from political ambition but also from an almost boyish admiration for the Mayor and his staff.
“His generosity got him into trouble,” said Howard Koeppel, a cousin. “He likes Giuliani and he likes the people the Mayor surrounds himself with. He wants to be a friend. He wants people to like him.”
John Gross, the Giuliani campaign treasurer, said Mr. Koeppel looked up to the Mayor. “He has an incredible admiration and affection for Rudy that is more intense than I’ve seen coming from almost anybody else,” Mr. Gross said.
Since Mr. Giuliani won office, Mr. Koeppel has used his contacts in City Hall to suggest some minor policy changes, city officials said.
For instance, Mr. Koeppel approached John S. Dyson, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, after a North Carolina boat company from which he had bought a fishing boat complained about the high cost of showing at a boat show in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Mr. Koeppel helped set up meetings between Mr. Dyson and the sponsors of the show to discuss the high costs, Mr. Dyson said.
Some family members said Mr. Koeppel has courted Mr. Giuliani because he hopes to someday win elective office, despite a crushing defeat in his 1990 Congressional race.
“He aspires to have a political career,” said his aunt, Nancy Koeppel. “I guess he felt if he could associate himself with someone successful and popular he could climb up the ladder.”
Mr. Koeppel, who is 34 years old, grew up in a wealthy New York real-estate family, dividing his time between his parents’ Fifth Avenue apartment and a summer home in West Palm Beach, Fla. He has lived a life of private schools, yachts and country clubs, secure in the knowledge that he would inherit a substantial real-estate business from his father, his family members said.
Mr. Koeppel attended the Bentley School in Manhattan and graduated from Adelphi University in 1981. After college, Mr. Koeppel attended Cardozo Law School in New York, though his study habits were irregular and he used to regularly fly to Florida on Thursday nights for long weekends, family members said. He graduated in 1984, but failed three times to pass the bar exam. He later sued the bar, saying the test was unfair to him because he was dyslexic. The case is pending.
Boats are Mr. Koeppel’s private passion, said his spokesman, Gary Lewi. He owns a 46-foot Hatteras fishing craft, the Sahara, moored at the Tide Mill Yacht Basin in Rye, N.Y. He has spent over $1 million on the boat, adding such luxuries as chrome finish for the engines and a high-tech satellite navigational system.
As a real-estate executive, Mr. Koeppel has neither expanded the family’s holdings nor hurt them, real estate executives said. He has yet to develop any property and has no projects in the works that would need city approval.
From an early age, Mr. Koeppel was sometimes hostile in dealings with cousins and siblings, several family members said, but the source of the animosity is hard to pinpoint.
In January, he used his influence in the new Giuliani administration to persuade the Finance Department to start a tax investigation of his relatives, Alfred and Bevin Koeppel, who own a separate real-estate company by the same name.
In 1964, the orginal Koeppel & Koeppel company was split in two by its owners, Max and Harry Koeppel, two brothers who over the previous three decades had built a small portfolio of properties into a sizable real- estate conglomerate controlling several office towers and East Side apartment buildings. Mr. Koeppel’s father, Harry Koeppel’s son, inherited several residential buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Max Koeppel’s sons, Alfred and Bevin, ended up with several office towers in Manhattan. Having lost many tenants in the recession, they have fallen behind on mortgage payments and taxes on their office tower at 575 Lexington Avenue and are in danger of losing the building.
Only a few weeks into the new administration’s term, Mr. Koeppel requested a meeting in person with the Finance Commissioner, Marc V. Shaw. He charged that his cousins had cheated on their taxes by having work performed on their private homes paid for by their company, city officials said. Mr. Shaw referred the accusations to city investigators.
Alfred Koeppel denied the charges and said Mr. Koeppel had tried several times in the past to discredit his relatives. In the late 1970’s, he said, Mr. Koeppel spread a damaging rumor in New York and Palm Beach business circles that his cousins were going bankrupt, he said.
“Billy has had some kind of perceived vendetta on my brother and me for a number of years,” Alfred Koeppel said. “He was like a gnat. I had to swat him away. But now he’s turned into a hornet.”
Through his spokesman, Mr. Koeppel maintained that the feud began after his relatives tried to block him from membership at various country clubs on Long Island.
The family dispute reached an apex this year when Mr. Koeppel boasted to a reporter from The New York Observer that he had used his influence with Mr. Giuliani to denounce his relatives as tax evaders. In the article, Mr. Koeppel said of his relatives: “They’re snakes and when you get a snake on the ground, you cut its head off.”
Mr. Koeppel later sent copies of the Observer article to contractors and vendors with whom he does business to show that he has nothing to do with the other side of the family, his cousins said.
Mr. Koeppel’s desire to distance himself from the financial troubles of his relatives may flow from his political ambitions. He got involved in Republican politics in 1987 when he became a fund-raiser for the Bushcampaign. He was also a major fund-raiser for Mr. Giuliani in 1989, collecting $103,400 from dozens of people, including many of his tenants and contractors.
The next year, Mr. Koeppel mounted a quixotic campaign to unseat Representative Theodore Weiss, the longtime Democratic Congressman from the Upper West Side of Manhattan who was considered to have an impregnable hold on the 17th District until his death in 1992.
Despite the odds, Mr. Koeppel ran anyway, spending nearly $264,000 of his own money and $150,000 from other contributors on a campaign that earned him little respect even in Republican political circles. He got less than 20 percent of the vote. “That campaign proved one thing,” one Koeppel campaign adviser said. “Money alone can’t beat a candidate.”
LANDLORD MUST PAY PRESSURED RENTERS.
NEW YORK — A landlord was sentenced Friday to 250 hours of community service and ordered to pay $21,200 in restitution and fines after he admitted forcing tenants to contribute to Republican political campaigns.
William Koeppel, 37, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor rent gouging. The law bars conditioning the leasing of a rent-regulated apartment on payment of money beyond the rent.
Koeppel admitted that he forced at least six tenants in three of his buildings to contribute amounts ranging from $900 to $1,750 to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the county and national GOP in exchange for apartment leases. source
Koeppel Cashes In on Day Care Space
By J.A. Lobbia Tuesday, Oct 10 2000
You’d think that a guy who claims to have spent his childhood doped up and locked in a dog kennel would have some sympathy for kids. That doesn’t seem to be the case with William Koeppel, the real estate scion who, in a 1997 family brawl over his father’s estate, complained that his mother had drugged and caged him as a child. Koeppel is best known, however, not as an allegedly abused child, but as a privileged pal of Rudy Giuliani whose enthusiasm for the mayor turned the landlord into a convicted rent-gouger. In 1996, Koeppel pleaded guilty to charges that he had leaned on five tenants and brokers to make contributions to the mayor’s campaign. That stunt followed his 1994 gift to 14 Giuliani staffers and campaign workers, who got cut-rate rents at Koeppel’s Upper East Sidebuildings.
But the mayor’s mega-fundraiser is showing nothing like generosity to the 55 children, aged two and a half to five years old, enrolled at the Unidad Day Care Center, which has been located for 25 years in the commercial space of an Upper West Side building owned by a Koeppel firm. In fact, Unidad workers say Koeppel has been downright mean. Earlier this year, Koeppel won an eviction against Unidad, forcing the center last month to relocate the children to five other day care centers. “Toward the end he was really harassing us,” says Unidad president Karole Key. “He’d come by personally saying, ‘You only have two weeks to go, you better get out of here.’ He was a very nasty man. We had to ask him to leave.”
“Toward the end he was really harassing us. He’d come by personally saying, ‘You only have two weeks to go, you better get out of here.’ “
Koeppel disputes Key’s take on their parting. “They were threatening not to move out, and we were just trying to amiably end our relationship,” he says. Koeppel adds that he has nothing but sympathy for the children, but insists that “we should not have to be the provider of social services. Believe me, I would never want to hurt the children, but they have been absorbed by other places.”
Now a legal twist has put the matter on hold, and although the children remain scattered, Unidad administrators are awaiting an October 12 court date, when a Manhattan supreme court judge is expected to rule on the center’s future. At issue, of course, is money. Koeppel wants to hike Unidad’s rent from $5000 a month to a minimum of $22,000—a rate Unidad cannot pay, even with the help it gets from the city’s Administration for Children’s Services. Koeppel says his firm, K.S.L.M.-Columbus Apartments, plans to lease the 5000 square feet occupied by Unidad for as much as $250,000 a month. Possible tenants include a vet, doctors, dentists, or “a high-end preschool” that Koeppel says would charge $15,000 a year.
In the eviction, Unidad had agreed to move out by September 15, and relocated the children by that time. But in the meantime, Unidad found a hook on which it hopes to hang an argument that the eviction was illegal. The space it rents is in a building constructed under the West Side Urban Renewal Plan, in the Westgate apartment tower located at 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Under the plan, the space was to be used as a school facility, a provision that does not expire until June 26, 2002.
“I researched in the city archives like a mother,” says Jean Dorsey, chair of the Westgate Tenants Association. “It took time, but we found it.” Specifically, what she discovered was a 1969 letter from the city planning commission designating the space for a school. While the plan does not say the school must be Unidad, the gist of the urban renewal plan is that it be affordable to the community—something that rules out Koeppel’s high-end prospect. On September 14, Unidad attorney William Gribben filed a suit arguing that using the space for anything other than an affordable school subverts the urban renewal plan.
Koeppel acknowledges that the building is within the plan’s borders, but counters that a different law governs Westgate, since it was built under the state Mitchell-Lama law to house middle-income people. Developers got tax breaks in return for collecting lower rents, but in 1998 Westgate opted out of the program, and began paying taxes and charging market rents. “The building is now a luxury building,” says Koeppel. “We’re getting $4000 for three bedrooms,” which rented for $522 under Mitchell-Lama, “and $3000 for twos. The change in the neighborhood is dramatic, and it’s a reflection of the economic gentrification up here. We can’t subsidize the day care center and pay taxes.”
Last month, housing court judge Karen Smith postponed the eviction, pending the supreme court case. Before Smith made her decision, an attorney for K.S.L.M.-Columbus argued that Unidad’s continued presence impeded the company’s ability to collect stratospheric rents. “You don’t have to tell me how much rent you can get in these Mitchell-Lama buildings,” Smith said, adding that she lives in one. “Everybody knows that the market has gone insane.”
Indeed, it’s not just toddlers who are targets of Koeppel’s greed. Tenants in the 425 Westgate apartments are battling to stave off K.S.L.M.’s pending application for a 600 percent rent hike, filed when it opted out of Mitchell-Lama.
The West Side rent grab stands in sharp contrast to Koeppel’s willingness to roll back rents for those Upper East Side tenants who worked for Giuliani’s campaign or administration. While the Campaign Finance Board found Koeppel had broken no law, Koeppel himself acknowledged that the scandal had embarrassed Giuliani, whom he described as a “very good friend.” Giuliani had appointed Koeppel to the board of the Off-Track Betting Corporation, a position the landlord gave up after his rent-gouging indictment. Koeppel’s zeal for Giuliani had created problems earlier: In 1993, the mayor’s campaign had to return $1000 to Koeppel, whose contribution exceeded the $6500 limit.
Koeppel is known as quirky. He has called for the exhumation of his father’s body in the estate battle. In 1994, he appeared on the Donahue show seeking a wife. He had no luck there, but Giuliani came to the rescue, introducing Koeppel to Jean Carol Herbage. They married in 1995.
Scion Has A Nose For Skulduggery
The New York millionaire who once said that his mother locked him in a dog cage is biting back.
Real estate heir William Koeppel sued his mother, Roberta, over the family’s estimated $48 million fortune last year in Manhattan Surrogate Court, challenging her handling of properties that he’s due to inherit from his father, Robert. Now he also wants his father’s body exhumed, sources say.
Koeppel, 39, a former fund-raiser for Mayor Giuliani, wouldn’t talk about it. But a cousin, Steven, says some family members “found the death and the circumstances surrounding the death highly unusual.”
Robert Koeppel, who built a property empire in New York and Florida, apparently was felled by a heart attack in 1996 at age 84.
But there was no autopsy and the family finds it curious that, hours after discovering her husband’s body in their $5 million Fifth Ave. apartment, Roberta Koeppel had his office safes delivered to her and drilled open.
Roberta, 61, said in court papers that the safes held stock certificates. Her attorney, Edward Walsh, said she simply “did precisely what an executor is required to do: find out what the decedent owned.”
Walsh adds that “I am quite confident Mr. Koeppel died of natural causes. He was not in the best of health. You don’t have autopsies in situations like this.”
William Koeppel is said to fear that his father met with foul play. He also has told friends that he suspects the safes his mother opened held a priceless watch collection and corporate documents that could help his case against her.
Sources say William and other family shareholders are now trying to wrest away control of three New York City buildings that Roberta manages. The question is who should run those buildings and who will get the houses, the yacht and a $3,000 set of golf clubs.
William – who pleaded guilty in 1996 to pressuring tenants and brokers to contribute to the Giuliani campaign is said lately to be urging the IRS to investigate Roberta and the Koeppel estate.
“We’ve received no notice of any kind from the IRS,” Walsh says.
William would not say whether he’s trying to get the IRS to audit his mother, but in a deposition he admitted to having warned his father that the elder Koeppel was “sowing the seeds of destruction with all his tax evasion.”
He also said in a deposition that his parents fought constantly and that his father once told him: “I have a tightrope to walk. She is out of control and crazy.”
Cousin Steven claims “there was a lot of hate” in the Koeppels’ 40-year marriage.
But according to Roberta, it was William who hastened the patriarch’s death.
“I don’t think he took a knife or gun to him, but his actions were just as lethal,” Roberta, said in court papers. She also said that William “badgered” his dad relentlessly for property ownership and that he once even knocked the arthritic old man to the floor.
William insists he did no such thing. “I always loved and respected my father,” he told us. “We were the best of friends and business partners.”
Which is more than he’ll say about his mother, who he said kept him kenneled and sedated as a child. Roberta has responded that her son is “pathetic” and a “lost soul” but denied any child abuse. In fact, she has accused him of grabbing and twisting her arm, dousing her clothes with a flammable liquid and planting an eavesdropping device in her bedroom. In 1995, she won an order of protection against him.
William, who admits that his gun collection includes an Uzi, has disputed all those charges. But he did try to have his mother arrested in 1996 for attempting to remove items from a Palm Beach condo they’re fighting over.
The matter is due for trial in December.
The 36 year old landlord surfed into trouble in Palm Beach where his father Robert, owns a condo near the posh Breakers resort. William evidently was planning on spending a few pleasant days there – only to discover that his father had changed the locks on him. Following a loud angry argument, the police arrived and were asked by Robert Koeppel to remove his son. “Robert claims that William has some emotional and personal problems and that he and his wife, Roberta, felt in fear of (him),” reads the police report.
The article in New York Magazine goes on to read that 4 days after the incident, William went to the police to relay the name and number of a therapist he said “had treated his father for emotional problems in the past . William requested that that information be put on public record. The incident occurred at the same time William was under indictment for rent gouging back in NY. According to NY Magazine, William’s response to the incident was, “Everybody can have a bad hair day, you know” and he insisted that he and his father have a “Brady Bunch” type relationship. #
More From NY Magazine
A millionaire mother and son are fighting in court over everything from pricey properties to the quarters collected in the laundry rooms of three family-owned buildings.
William Koeppel, 38, says his late father, Robert Koeppel, wanted him to keep the change after expenses were deducted for running the washers and dryers.
Roberta Koeppel, Robert’s widow and William’s mother, says the quarters about $25,000 worth annually belong to the family real estate company.
The changeis the tipof a big-money battleiceberg, pitting the son a controversial supporter of Mayor Giuliani’s against his mom.
William Koeppel’s complaints are filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, where the Manhattan landlord is challenging his mother’s handling of the $13.3 million estate of his father, who died unexpectedly last October.
Koeppel says his mother started charging him $1,500 a month for a parking spot at one of the family’s buildings, a spot his father let him use for free.
He also says mom wants to take away the cozy condo he shared with his father in Palm Beach,Fla., as well as the $1.8 million house they shared in Rye, N.Y.
Koeppel said his mother’s attorney told him that if he insisted on keeping the homes, he would be cut off from the family fortune. “You would have to go sell cars for your [expletive] cousin in Queens,” he claims the lawyer said.
The cousin, Howard Koeppel, another top Giuliani backer, is a prominent Queens automobile dealer.
Mom also sold a car William Koeppel says his father bought for him, although she did let him keep the vanity license plates.
Koeppel said that his problems with his mother date to childhood, when, he claims, she would lock him in a dog cage.
Roberta Koeppel’s lawyer, Edward Walsh, called the dog cage story “hogwash.”
Roberta says her William has been living “on the dole,”and she needs the money from her husband’s estate to maintain his real estate empire.
William Koeppel last made headlines in 1996 when he pleaded guilty to forcing prospective tenants to cough up contributions for Giuliani in exchange for apartment leases. He previously sparked an ethics debate when it was revealed he had leased apartments at discount rates to 14 Giuliani staffers.
Landlord connected to Giuliani era scandal cutting corners, worker benefits
NEW YORK – Tenants at an upscale East Midtown building joined with elected officials and striking workers today to protest deteriorating conditions that include harassment and neglected maintenance. The landlord, William W. Koeppel, has a history of mistreating tenants, including rent gouging. In the 1990s, he pled guilty to soliciting campaign contributions for Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral campaigns in exchange for rent-regulated leases.
Tenants at 350 East 52nd Street pay upwards of $4,000 in rent per month, but their building has been in sharp decline since Koeppel failed to agree to a contract with doormen, porters and handymen. The building, which advertises “luxury” rentals, has violations for water damage and mice. Tenants complain of a revolving door of temporary workers who fail to make needed repairs, let strangers into the building and harass residents.
Kirk Swanson a tenant at 350 East 52nd Street said, “My wife and I lay out a lot of money for our apartment, and part of the reason we do is because we expect a certain level of service that comes from paying the premium we do. Now our landlord, William Koeppel, who sued his mother to gain control of this building, has decided that we are no longer entitled to that service by forcing our doormen to strike. This is an unacceptable an act of bad faith from a man who treats his tenants with contempt and revels in sloppy greed,”
“Every tenant deserves peace of mind at home, no matter what they pay in rent. But clearly, even $4,000 a month isn’t enough to convince a bad landlord to do his job,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
“This landlord once fleeced tenants to support his political pals.
This time, he’s squeezing every nickel out residents and workers for his own personal profit.”
“There is a reason that 3,000 buildings throughout NYC have chosen to work with 32BJ, they know there is a guaranteed level of service and accountability with their employees,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
“In fact, tenants of this building have told me they were very satisfied with staffing and services up until recently, when they had a contract with 32BJ. If you are paying for a certain type, and level, of service, then you should get that service. Mr. Koepell is refusing to provide his tenants, who pay heft rents rents, with the level of service they have paid to receive, which simply isn’t fair, nor smart for his business.”
“Tenants and doormen deserve to be treated with dignity and respect for the law,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer.
“It’s time for Mr. Koeppel to stop cutting corners and put the safety of these tenants first.”
“This landlord should be ashamed of himself. He needs to bargain with the building’s workers and do the right thing,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin.
“By putting the safety of his tenants at risk just to save a buck, William Koeppel goes too far,” said Kyle Bragg, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU. “The residents and building workers deserve a more responsible landlord.”
Roughly 3,000 other buildings approved a contract with their workers in April 2010, but 350 East 52nd Street was one of only 12 buildings where workers and management failed to reach an agreement.
“I am proud to stand with the tenants in their collective action against their landlord and the doormen from 32BJ who are fighting for fair and equitable treatment,” said community leader Dan Quart. source
New York Magazine
WILL RUDY AND DONNA REPAY BILL?
If Bill Koeppel’s ambitious lawyers have their way, Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Donna Hanover may take the stand to testify in a nasty legal battle that’s pitting son against mother. Koeppel is suing his mother over his father’s estate, and his attorneys filed a list of potential witnesses that includes the city’s First Couple. Not only did they introduce the real-estate scion (and Giuliani fund-raiser) to the woman who became his wife, Jean Herbage, but they also visited Bill and Jean in Palm Beach and Westchester. The mayor even spoke at their 1995 wedding, where Bill’s mother, Roberta Koeppel, created a family drama. “She expressed great discomfort at being there,” reports Melanie Korn, a neighbor and therapist who gave a deposition for Bill. Korn says she sat with Roberta at the wedding because “I agreed with her that she should not circulate and tell people that this wedding will not last.” Within days of the ceremony, Bill consulted Korn professionally. Among other things, they discussed the armed guard he’d hired at his wedding “to prevent any inappropriate, embarrassing actions by his mother,” Korn says in her deposition. The case is now in discovery, report attorneys for both sides.