BY JON CRONIN
Terrified residents of a Sunnyside co-op claim to have been harassed and intimidated into remaining quiet after their property manager filled the building’s lobby with historical photos that include pictures of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini.
On Wednesday, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside)—standing outside the building, located at 47-55 39th Place—said that the site’s residents are “living in fear” and “being held hostage” by the property manager, Neil Milano. Van Bramer called the lobby a representation of “racist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant actions.”
Residents, who were too afraid to speak with the press, told Van Bramer that anyone who spoke out against the posters in the lobby soon found the front door of their apartment covered in stickers stating, “Trump: Build The Wall.” So far, one couple has not had their lease renewed after speaking out. Residents also reported to Van Bramer that Milano has told them he has many guns in his apartment.
“What are people supposed to think?” asked Van Bramer.
Milano is not a condo owner in the building and his name is not on the deed, but his daughter owns two condos in the building. The councilman said that he was told by neighbors that Milano harasses black and Latino people as they walk by the building.
Van Bramer said that he had spent time talking to residents over the past two days in the lobby of the building. He said residents told him that they were glad he was there, but they couldn’t talk to him since Milano, who is also director of the co-op board, watches them through the closed-circuit security system in the building.
“Make no mistake: Those cameras are here to monitor the residents,” said Van Bramer.
While in the lobby, Van Bramer noticed that the apartment directory included infamous Nazi physician Josef Mengele and Rudolf Höss, who was the longest-serving Auschwitz concentration camp commandant, as well as celebrities such as Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight.
The councilman reported that Milano is out of the country for an extended period of time, but the landlord’s lawyer spoke with Van Bramer and said that the photos and posters are only a historical timeline. Regarding the apartment directory, Van Bramer was told by Milano’s lawyer that his client did not post it.
Lynn Calvacca, who owns two condos in the building, is suing Milano and the condo board members, whose identities are unknown. The details of her lawsuit will be public tomorrow.
Calvacca said that she ran against Milano in 2014 for director of the condo board.
“He banged on every door and intimidated them,” she said of the landlord.
Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council and member of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that if “someone had put a swastika on a car, the hate-crimes unit would come immediately.”
“This is a form of terrorism,” Nussbaum said. “Let’s not be polite. It is no less than what has been done around the world, whether it’s the Middle East or Charlottesville.”
He hopes to see Milano removed from the building through legal methods.
Joel Thomas, who lives a couple of doors away from the condo building, said that he has encountered Milano many times.
“He believes he’s a general,” said Thomas, and added that Milano has “a very dark energy.”
NYPD Borough North Chief Juanita Holmes told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that she is assigning Community Affairs officers to perform an investigation into the matter.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.