Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced that a Queens realtor was arrested upon her arrival yesterday at John F. Kennedy Airport following a flight from the Ukraine and charged with taking tens of thousands of dollars in security deposits, agent fees and rental payments from 19 prospective tenants over a one-year period between November 2014 and October 2015 and then never making the apartments available and not returning their deposits. In six instances in which the defendant allegedly provided prospective tenants with refund checks, the checks were returned either because the account was frozen/blocked or due to insufficient funds.
District Attorney Brown said, “This case sadly represents an all too common scenario in which an allegedly greedy realtor is accused of taking advantage of Queens County’s tight housing market to rob unsuspecting individuals of substantial amounts of their hard-earned savings. For many of the victims, the loss is doubly troubling in that they lost their money and were still without a place in which to live.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Rosita Tsiklauri (a/k/a Rosita Tinoco, Rosie Villegas, Rosy Villegas and Rosy Tinoco), 47, of College Point, Queens, and the chief executive officer of Fast Solutions Realty and Supreme Realty, both formerly located at 47-20 48 Avenue in Woodside, Queens. Tsiklauri was arraigned last night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Althea Drysdale on a criminal complaint charging her with second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and issuing a bad check. Tsiklauri, who faces up to fifteen years in prison if convicted, was ordered held on $75,000 bond/$50,000 cash bail, to surrender her U.S. passport and to return to court on May 31, 2016.
District Attorney Brown said that the matter was brought to the attention of his office by the television network Univision and several of the prospective tenants who met with staff from his Office of Immigrant Affairs who then developed the case by uncovering additional alleged victims. Anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim of the defendant’s alleged scheme is asked to contact his Economics Crimes Bureau at 1-718-286-6673 or the Office of Immigrant Affairs at 1-718-286-6690.
For those who do not speak English, they should call the Office of Immigrant Affairs and state the language they are most comfortable communicating in and then leave a message in that language with their name and telephone number. Someone who speaks that language will return the call.
District Attorney Brown said that, according to the criminal complaint, many of the prospective tenants learned of apartments that were available throughout Queens through online ads or advertisements in local periodicals placed by Fast Solutions Realty or Supreme Realty. It is alleged that between November 14, 2014, and October 18, 2015, Tsiklauri presented herself as a real estate agent for Fast Solutions Realty and Supreme Realty and that she or an unapprehended other individual, showed and collected $76,820 in security deposits, agent fees and rent payments from 19 prospective tenants for apartments which were never made available for occupancy to the victims and which Tsiklauri never intended on making available to the victims. In numerous instances, it is alleged that Tsiklauri agreed to refund the victims but either failed to appear at the agreed upon time and place to furnish a refund or she provided a refund check that was returned because the account had been blocked or frozen or due to insufficient funds. It is additionally alleged that, in numerous instances, Tsiklauri collected payment from more than one unrelated victim for the rental of the same apartment for the same rental period.
For example, it is alleged that Tsiklauri showed the same apartment on 77 Street in Jackson Heights to two prospective tenants – one in June 2015 and the other in July 2015. In the first instance, Tsiklauri allegedly informed the prospective tenant that the rent on the apartment was $2,500 a month and that she required $5,000 to cover the security deposit and agency fee. The victim went to Fast Solutions Realty’s 48 Avenue office and allegedly gave Tsiklauri $5,000 in cash, tax information, pay stubs, a reference and signed a rental lease for the apartment. Tsiklauri allegedly told the victim she could move into the apartment between August 1, 2015, and August 15, 2015. However, it is alleged that the victim was never given access to the apartment after paying the deposit and fee and she was told by Tsiklauri that the apartment was no longer available to rent. Tsiklauri allegedly never provided the victim with a refund of the monies she paid to her.
In the second instance, Tsiklauri allegedly told the prospective tenant that the rent on the 77th Street apartment was $2,400 a month and that she required $4,800 to cover the security deposit and the agency fee. As in the other case, the victim allegedly went to Fast Solutions Realty’s offices and gave Tsiklauri $4,800 in cash and signed a rental lease for the apartment with a move-in date at the beginning of August 2015. Similarly, the victim was allegedly told by Tsiklauri that the apartment was no longer available to rent and Tsiklauri allegedly kept the money that the victim had given her.
The investigation was conducted by Detective Marcelo Razzo, of the New York City Police Department’s Financial Crimes Task Force, which is under the supervision of Captain Christopher C. Flanagan, Commanding Officer, and by Assistant District Attorney Carmencita N. Gutierrez, Director of the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Detective David Matos, of the District Attorney’s Detective Bureau, as well as coordinators with Make the Road New York.
Assistant District AttorneyHeather H. Marshall, of the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gregory C. Pavlides, Bureau Chief, and Christina Hanophyand Kristen A. Kane, DeputyBureau Chiefs, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.
It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. #