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One of them stayed in a hotel for free for five years

One of them stayed in a hotel for free for five years

Built in 1930, the Art Deco New Yorker Hotel is one of New York's iconic landmarks.

Photograph: Peter Morgan/AP TT

For five years, Mickey Barretto, 48, was able to live for free in the famous building in New York, but on Wednesday he was arrested and charged with, among other things, fraud.

The indictment comes after a long-term conflict that began with renting a hotel room. Barreto discovered that there was a loophole that allowed people who rented a room to claim a six-month lease.

He won in court

Barreto asked the hotel for a lease because he had paid for one night at the hotel and should therefore be considered a tenant – the hotel responded by kicking him out.

– So I went to court the next day. The judge dismissed the case, but I appealed to the state Supreme Court and won the appeal, Barreto says according to the AP.

One reason for the victory is said to be that the owner's lawyers did not show up during a crucial part of the negotiations – and Barreto won in a tie-breaker.

Owned by the accused sectarian movement

He lived in the hotel until July 2023 without paying rent because the owners did not negotiate, but they were unable to evict him.

In 2019, Barretto uploaded fake documents claiming that he had seized ownership of the building from the current owners – the Unification Church movement accused of sectarianism. After that he started acting as a homeowner.

A wedding in South Korea organized by the Unification Church

Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

“Among them is demanding rent from one of the hotel’s tenants, registering the hotel in his name with the New York Department of Environmental Protection for water and sewer payments, and asking the hotel’s bank to transfer its accounts to him,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a report. The statement, according to AP.

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The church filed a lawsuit against Barreto in 2019, a case that is still pending.

-I never meant to commit any fraud. I don't think I committed any fraud at all. And I've never made a dime from this, and he believes this business is activism, according to the Associated Press, Barretto said.

This is the New Yorker Hotel

The building was built in 1930 in the Art Deco style.

The New Yorker is not the most glamorous hotel in the city but it is one of the largest, located near Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

The iconic red New Yorker sign makes it a famous landmark.

Celebrities such as inventor Nikola Tesla and boxer Muhammad Ali have stayed at the hotel.

After closing in 1972, the building was used for church purposes before partially reopening as a hotel in 1994.

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