Property developer sentenced to more than five years in prison for conspiracy to burn | USAO-SDNY

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Audrey Strauss, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent in charge of the New York City Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the Police Department New York City (“NYPD”) and Daniel A. Nigro, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department (“FDNY”), announced that DANIEL MELAMED, a / k / a “Danny”, a New York City developer has been sentenced to 66 months in federal prison for his part in an arson conspiracy, in which he ordered several fires to be started in residential buildings, the tenants of which he wanted to vacate in order to build premises. MELAMED previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson before US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who handed down today’s verdict.

US Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Nearly ten years ago, Daniel Melamed decided that he could use his power and influence as a property developer to burn families out of their homes, homes that he wanted to build and turn into profit. As he learned when he was first arrested almost two years ago and was reminded again today, we will fight the fire and, together with our partners at ATF, NYPD and FDNY, prosecute anyone who tries to terrorize members of this community through arson. And if you are a real estate developer in this city and think that you are above the law, think again, unless you want your own plans to turn into smoke. “

ATF Special Agent in charge John B. DeVito said: “Arson is inherently dangerous and we just can’t let that happen. I hope this verdict will serve as a serious deterrent to others who might contemplate committing this heinous crime. We are grateful that Melamed’s criminal actions cost no one their lives and that in this case justice will prevail. ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at the federal, state and local levels to investigate and prosecute individuals who show severe disregard for the safety of our community. ”

FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said, “Setting fire to apartment buildings while residents are asleep is a heinous crime indeed. These fires endangered the lives of innocent residents and the firefighters who bravely rescued them. I applaud our fire marshals, NYPD and ATF officers, and the US Attorney’s Office for their efforts to bring this man to justice. ”

According to the allegations in the surrogate indictment, other court documents, public information and statements made in public trials:

Between 2011 and 2013, MELAMED instructed his co-accused and accomplice KURTIS WILLIAMS to set fire to several houses in the residential buildings that MELAMED wanted to build and which he planned to acquire or recently acquired. The purpose of the fires was to intimidate and thus expel the residents of these residential buildings, whose legal removal by eviction or voluntary ransom payments proved too burdensome for MELAMED, either due to the time or cost required to vacate premises that otherwise case would be considered free. ripe for development. MELAMED paid WILLIAMS to set it on fire, and in turn, WILLIAMS hired another man to set it on fire, which was fired at regular intervals during the night as the residents of the target houses slept. In the end, an investigation into these fires revealed that MELAMED ordered WILLIAMS to use the fire to evict at least three apartment buildings, in which a total of five separate fires had been set on fire. Although no one was physically injured as a result of these fires, some caused significant damage, especially in the case of a single-family home in Albertson, New York, which was largely burned down and from which family members who lived there escaped. lives, but not their many pets, which were burned alive, or their belongings, which were largely destroyed. Back in 2019, on video recordings of meetings between MELAMED and Williams, MELAMED discussed with Williams the release of another occupied apartment building owned by MELAMED by illegally cutting its utilities or setting it on fire, the latter option was discussed using the term “Milk” or the phrase “pour milk” – it is MELAMED’s coded terminology, meaning the use of fire to free people from a building. Following these meetings, MELAMED was arrested and detained in November 2019.

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In addition to his imprisonment, 43-year-old MELAMED from Great Neck, New York, was sentenced to 3 years of compulsory release with a payment of $ 500,000 and an additional fine of $ 50,000.

CURTIS WILLIAMS, 52, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and multiple arson attacks on April 14, 2021. No sentencing date has been set yet.

Ms. Strauss praised the hard and outstanding investigative work of the New York Arson Task Force. The NYC Ignites Task Force is composed of special agents and task force officers from several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including ATF, NYPD and FDNY. Ms. Strauss also thanked the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their significant contributions and continued assistance in the investigation, which culminated in the conviction and conviction of MELAMED.

This case is handled by the Criminal Division of the Office. The prosecution is led by Assistant US Attorneys Kyle Virshba and Thomas John Wright.

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