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Can an alleged arsonist escape eviction under NY COVID laws?

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An accused arsonist who allegedly twice set fire to his luxury midtown apartment building is trying to use Gov. Cuomo’s new pandemic rules to dodge eviction, his landlord claims.

The alleged firebug has left residents in the 37-story hi-rise “in constant fear for their lives,” according to court papers filed by the landlord, who has been trying to oust him for months.

But when faced with an eviction notice — after allegedly causing $3.5 million in damage to the West 59th Street building — Christian Ledan filed a form claiming he’d had financial hardship because of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Hardship Declaration forms are part of new rules signed into law by Gov. Cuomo in December. Most tenants who file the form have their evictions paused for weeks.

Christian Ledan pays just $1,117 monthly for a one-bedroom apartment at One Waterline Square under affordable housing rules. Market-rate one-bedrooms in the building go for nearly $6,000 a month.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door ope
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

After weeks of erratic and paranoid behavior that included Ledan, 48, screaming and cursing at people in the lobby, and claiming he was being hacked, watched in the shower and monitored by the FBI, he allegedly set fire to cardboard boxes in his kitchen around 4:30 a.m.

“The voices in his head told him to do so,” according to a fire marshal’s report and court papers.

“Nervous about keeping the fire inside,” he dragged the burning materials into the hall, where authorities found “a pyre,” according to a criminal complaint charging Ledan with second-degree arson.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

The FDNY was forced to break open Ledan’s door and “drag” him out, the landlord said in legal papers.

No one was hurt in the July blaze, but that “was by a thin stroke of luck,” landlord RCB3 Affordable LLC claims.

At the time, housing courts were closed due to Cuomo’s eviction moratorium, and a source said the pandemic delayed a fire marshal’s report on the incident.

The former residence of Christian Ledan.
The former residence of Christian Ledan.
J.C.Rice for NY Post

By the time Ledan was arrested in September, he claimed to have no memory of the fire.

With the ongoing criminal case not scheduled to be heard in court until May 10, RCB3 Affordable Vice President John Gagnier begged for help in court papers, pleading, “This situation cannot continue.”

At least one fearful neighbor broke their lease and moved, and another tenant voiced concern Ledan would “kill us all,” according to the court filing. The fire and water damaged all seven elevators and common areas, the landlord claims in court papers seeking to boot Ledan.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

RCB3 Affordable notified the fiery tenant in February his lease would be terminated. On March 15, Ledan filed the COVID-19 hardship declaration form.

Two days later, Ledan allegedly set a second fire, this time in his closet, according to the landlord’s lawsuit, which claims building workers found smoke pouring from Ledan’s door, which was propped open with a laptop. The cause of the fire is under investigation, the FDNY said.

Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open
Court documents showing damage to the apartment of Christian Ledan after he set a fire in his closet and left, propping the door open.
Court documents

Tenants who file the hardship form in the face of eviction typically have their cases put on hold until at least May 1, under new rules from Albany. More than 25,500 tenants citywide filed the form as of last week, according to the Office of Court Administration.

Ledan’s claim of financial hardship is bunk, asserts the landlord, who notes in the litigation that the “entirety” of Ledan’s rent has been paid for not by him, but with a subsidy.

RCB3 Affordable has barred Ledan from the building for now, and says costs from both fires now total more than $4 million. The landlord wants a judge to deem Ledan an exception under the new rules and his behavior grounds for his immediate ejection.

Ledan did not return messages seeking comment.

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Suspect arrested in fatal Brooklyn stabbing

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Police have apprehended a suspect in the fatal December stabbing of a Brooklyn man, cops said on Saturday.

The suspect, John Headley, 32, also of Brooklyn, was taken into custody Friday and charged with murder and weapons possession for the Dec. 12 knifing of Ken Baird, 37, police said.

Baird was stabbed multiple times in the chest following a dispute on Crown Street near Utica Avenue in Crown Heights at about 6:40 p.m., police said.

EMS transported Baird to King County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, cops said.

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Man dies after jumping from Staten Island Ferry

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A 53-year-old man died Saturday after jumping from the Staten Island Ferry into the chilly waters of New York Harbor, police said.

NYPD Harbor launch officers pulled the man out of the water after responding to reports of a jumper near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan at around 2 p.m.

“He jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock,” an NYPD spokesman told The Post. He jumped off the Ferryboat Andrew J. Barberi, police said.

The unidentified victim was removed to Pier 11 and transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 3:10 p.m.

A newsstand worker said there were “about 50 or so emergency people” at Pier 11 following a valiant effort — which included CPR — to save the man’s life.

Ferry1

An NYPD spokesman says the 53-year-old man “jumped off the ferry as it pulled away from the dock.”

Michael Dalton

Ferry3

The 53-year-old man was transported to New York-Presbyterian Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Michael Dalton

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Kemp Lashes M.L.B. as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law

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Mr. Kemp, who is gearing up to run for re-election in 2022, has striven to re-enter the good graces of Republican voters after becoming a central political target of former President Donald J. Trump because of his refusal to help Mr. Trump overturn the state’s election results last year. A former secretary of state of Georgia who has his own record of decisions that made voting harder for the state’s residents, he is again a key G.O.P. voice leading the charge on the issue.

On Saturday, he repeatedly tried to paint the league’s decision as driven by Stacey Abrams, the voting rights advocate and former Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia who is seen as likely to challenge Mr. Kemp again next year.

Ms. Abrams, one of the most prominent critics of Georgia’s voting law, has pushed back on calls for sports leagues and corporations to boycott the state. She said on Friday that she was “disappointed” baseball officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”

In defending the law in Georgia, Mr. Kemp singled out two Democratically controlled states, New York and Delaware, and compared their voting regulations with the new law in Georgia. Those states do not offer as many options for early voting as Georgia does, but they have also not passed new laws instituting restrictions on voting.

“In New York, they have 10 days of early voting,” Mr. Kemp said (New York actually has nine). “In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason.”

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