New York State’s Attorney General recommended in court filings that the Orthodox Jewish businessmen who made a quick $72 million selling a Lower East Side nursing home to a condo developer should no longer be allowed to buy nursing homes in New York State, the New York Post reported.
The Brooklyn-based Allure Group has been at the center of a citywide scandal since the Spring, when local media reported that the firm had received an unusual waiver from the city to allow it clear out the nursing home for AIDS patients, called Rivington House, and sell the building as luxury housing.
Allure Group CEO Solomon Rubin is a prominent member of the Boro Park-based Bobov Hasidic group, which has enjoyed close ties with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.
In the court filling reported July 26 by the Post, the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman argued that Allure’s “direct involvement in the demise of the Rivington House home raises sufficient concern about the proposed purchasers’ suitability and fitness.”
The filing came in a New York State Supreme Court case in which Schneiderman’s office is seeking to stop Allure from buying a Harlem nursing home it has managed for years. Under New York State law, the Attorney General must approve the sale of property owned by not-for-profit entities.
Allure’s attorney objected to the Attorney General’s filling in a statement to the Post. “The attorney general’s filing does not identify any misrepresentations allegedly made by the principals of Allure,” Neil Steiner told the paper.
The Attorney General’s efforts against Allure came days before new revelations in the ongoing investigation into why New York City officials gave Allure approval to change the deed on the Rivington House property. Documents previously withheld from the city’s Department of Investigations by the city’s Law Department showed that the city had known as early as 2014 that the property could be sold for condominium development.
At a press availability Wednesday morning, de Blasio belittled the controversy. “This is probably bigger than Watergate,” he said when asked about the Rivington House sale, according to the New York Daily News.
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Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.