Brooklyn realtor charged with rental apartment and PPE fraud

Kings County Supreme Court at 360 Adams St. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

A Brooklyn real estate broker has been charged with stealing a total of $103,021 in a succession of schemes, first involving people seeking to rent apartments, then defrauding medical distribution companies by falsely offering to supply them personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID -19 pandemic.

District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the accused as Michael Kapelow, 33, of Manhattan Beach. He was arraigned on Tuesday before Brooklyn State Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree robbery, six counts of third degree robbery, two counts of first degree scheme to defraud and four. counts of second degree possession of a counterfeit instrument.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Eagle archive photo by Rob Abruzzese

Kapelow was released without bail and ordered to return to court on May 31, 2022.

According to the investigation, from December 2019 to February 2020, Kapelow, a licensed real estate salesman who listed properties in Brighton Beach, stole $21,225 in security deposits and rent installments from two couples trying to rent an apartment. at 380 Neptune Ave. as well as $5,990 from another person looking to rent an apartment at 40 Shore Blvd.

In each case, the defendant allegedly told the victims that he would pass the funds to the building owner or management company, only to deposit the money into his own bank account.

Then, from June to December 2020, Kapelow allegedly stole a total of $69,556 from three medical distribution companies he promised to supply with PPE. In each case, the defendant allegedly lied and claimed to possess – or have access to – hundreds of boxes of medical gloves.

However, according to the investigation, the gloves were non-existent and the defendant would have had no intention of supplying the essential product.

In one case, according to the investigation, the owner of one of the businesses became suspicious of Kapelow’s repeated delays in providing the PPE and drove to the location where he told her that was his warehouse. Arriving at the address, the owner found only an abandoned dance studio.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Eagle archive photo by Rob Abruzzese

The defendant is also accused, during this period, of defrauding an investor of $6,250 after he promised to partner in a sale of PPE and split the profits.

The indictment claims that none of the victims of the rental apartment or PPE frauds were ever reimbursed despite repeated and urgent requests. The defendant was reportedly able to follow the victims through various excuses and evasions, including claiming he suffered a family or medical emergency.

In fact, according to the investigation, the defendant withdrew most of the money in cash or spent it at various casinos in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly stole more than a hundred thousand dollars, taking advantage of people seeking housing in Brooklyn and then, after the pandemic began, exploiting shortages of essential personal protective equipment by soliciting and wrongly offering medical supplies distribution companies. He allegedly stole not only money, but also wasted valuable time and resources needed to protect essential workers during this unprecedented time of crisis. »

This case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Brian Connor of the District Attorney’s Fraud Office, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gregory Pavlides, Chief of the Fraud Office, and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.