Hotel Stay and Stay and Stay | God's World News

Hotel Stay and Stay and Stay

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    This 2013 photo shows the New Yorker Hotel in New York City. (AP/Peter Morgan)
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    Mickey Barreto succeeded in using a New York City housing law to live rent-free in the New Yorker Hotel. He was charged with fraud after he claimed to own it. (Mickey Barreto Missions)
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    A 2008 photo shows an entrance to the New Yorker Hotel. (Public domain)
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    Most people consider the Unification Church to be a cult. It is known for holding mass wedding ceremonies like this one. (AP/Ahn Young-joon)
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For five years, a New York City man lived rent-free in a landmark hotel thanks to an obscure housing law. Then he got greedy. He claimed ownership of the building.

The Art Deco-style hotel with the huge red “New Yorker” sign has been a landmark since its 1930 opening. Inventor Nikola Tesla lived in Rooms 3327-28 for a decade. Boxer Muhammad Ali stayed there. So did actor Mickey Rooney and baseball great Joe DiMaggio.

But time wasn’t kind to the New Yorker. The building closed as a hotel in 1972.

Four years later, a group calling itself the Unification Church bought the New Yorker. The organization is commonly believed to be a religious cult. Its followers are called “Moonies” after founder Sun Myung Moon. The group housed its global headquarters in the 42-story building.

In 1994, part of the building reopened as a hotel. Since then, various chains have worked to revive the once-famous place.

In June 2018, Mickey Barreto paid for a room at Manhattan’s New Yorker Hotel. He had heard about a city housing loophole. City rent laws allowed some tenants in pre-1969 buildings to demand a six-month lease. The law was meant in part to keep rent prices and neighborhoods stable.

Barreto took advantage. He claimed his one-night hotel stay made him a tenant.

The next day, Barreto asked the hotel for a lease. The management kicked him out, so he sued. The case eventually landed in the state Supreme Court.

In a surprise verdict, Barreto won. The judge ordered the hotel to give Barreto a key.

Here’s where the story gets even more unusual. Barreto lived at the New Yorker until July 2023 rent-free. The owners wouldn’t grant a lease—but couldn’t kick him out.

Barreto wasn’t content with free housing.

In 2019, he uploaded a fake deed to a city website. It claimed to transfer ownership of the entire building to Barreto from the Unification group.

That’s when the legal system got involved. Barreto tried to “[demand] rent from one of the hotel’s tenants” according to a state prosecutor. He registered the hotel under his name with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and demanded control of the hotel bank account.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says, “Mickey Barreto repeatedly and fraudulently claimed ownership of [the hotel].”

Barreto remains defiant. “I don’t believe I ever committed any fraud,” he insists. “And I never made a penny.”

Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household. — Proverbs 15:27

Why? A greedy person with an unchecked conscience may seek loopholes or shortcuts for unjust gain—rather than doing what is right. Just laws will restrain those actions.

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