Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of MICHAEL TAMMARO, 55, to 3-to-9-years in state prison for stealing nearly $200,000 from at least 40 victims by means of an online scam involving an apartment he rented. On February 7, 2013, the defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to the top count in the indictment: Grand Larceny in the Second Degree. TAMMARO is also charged in a second indictment with Forgery in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Identity Theft in the Third Degree, and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree; that case remains open.
“This was nothing more than a low-rent Ponzi scheme in a luxury apartment,” said District Attorney Vance. “It started with a single victim, and snowballed from there to encompass more than 40 people. The defendant has shown disregard for the well-being of his victims, who came from all walks of life – from exchange students to professionals – and from all over the world seeking housing in a borough with an apartment vacancy rate of under one-and-a-half-percent. We are gratified to see justice served by an appropriate state prison sentence.”
As detailed in the defendant’s guilty plea and statements made in court, between April and September 2012, TAMMARO, a professional photographer, stole between $900 and $20,000 from each of his victims using a similar scheme: he posted high-quality photos of his primary residence, a rental apartment on W. 20th Street in Chelsea, on Craiglist.org, advertising its availability. Individuals interested in the renting the apartment sent money to TAMMARO for a security deposit or for the first rent payment. Even though the apartment had been promised to at least one prospective tenant already, TAMMARO continued to accept payments from other victims. When confronted with allegations of the scheme, the defendant sometimes paid back one person with money he accepted from another victim. The scheme eventually unraveled after multiple victims tried to move into the apartment on the same day.
A second, pending case against TAMMARO involves activity that occurred in late February 2013, after TAMMARO had already pleaded guilty to the first indictment and was released by the court in order to pay back the victims of that earlier case. In the pending case, the defendant is accused of writing several checks payable to himself without the permission or authority of the account holder, whose name was on the checks. The victim was a tenant of the defendant, and had been renting his Chelsea apartment while he was incarcerated.
Assistant District Attorney Richard Freud and former Assistant District Attorneys Jonathan Dreyfuss and Daryl Reed prosecuted this case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Alfred Peterson, Deputy Chief of Trial Bureau 50, and Warren Murray, Chief of Trial Bureau 50.
MICHAEL TAMMARO, D.O.B. 12/6/57
New York, NY