Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of RICHARD BASSIK, 67, to multiple charges of Grand Larceny and to one charge of Scheme to Defraud. As the property manager of DOWNTOWN PROPERTIES, INC., BASSIK stole more than $2.3 million from 19 properties, primarily residential buildings in lower Manhattan. BASSIK will be sentenced on October 12, 2010.
“RICHARD BASSIK stole his clients’ money to bankroll a lavish lifestyle that included trips to the Caribbean and visits to the Ritz Carlton hotel,” said District Attorney Vance. “In his position as property manager, the defendant plundered funds that were necessary to the operation of 19 properties, endangering the financial health of the buildings and their shareholders.”
According to court documents, BASSIK, through DOWNTOWN PROPERTIES INC., was charged with the management of 19 properties, ranging from high-end co-ops and condos to a building owned by a nonprofit organization. BASSIK oversaw the day-to-day operations, including ensuring that common charges, maintenance fees and commercial property rents were collected, that property taxes were paid, and that each building was in good repair. In some cases, he was also directed to invest excess building money in certificates of deposit (“CDs”) for safekeeping.
While managing the properties, BASSIK systematically stole money through wrongfully issued checks, cash withdrawals, and the diversion of CD funds. In some cases, BASSIK was granted access to a co-operative’s bank account, and transferred money from those accounts to his own. BASSIK outsourced the actual bookkeeping functions and management of the financial records to an unrelated accounting company, which collected the revenue and paid the bills for the various buildings, according to documents filed in court. BASSIK exploited this bookkeeping arrangement to conceal his thefts for at least four years.
On several occasions, BASSIK instructed the outside accounting company to issue a large check in the name of one of the buildings he managed, allegedly to transfer the funds to a “reserve account” for that building. Once BASSIK had the check in hand, he simply opened a new bank account in the name of the building with himself as the sole signatory on the account. BASSIK also accomplished his thefts by submitting false invoices to the outside accounting company in the name of “American Systems” or “The American Company” — both made-up company names — allegedly for some kind of insurance coverage for one of the buildings that he managed, according to documents filed in court. The invoices included a purported “policy number,” which turned out to be BASSIK’s personal American Express account number. These invoices were paid out of the buildings’ bank accounts. In one case, on the same date, BASSIK submitted invoices for two different buildings allegedly for “terrorism insurance.” BASSIK used the money pay for various personal expenses such as vacations, office rent, groceries, hotel accommodations, and jewelry.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorney Leah Keith of the Special Prosecutions Bureau and Deputy Bureau Chief Judy Salwen, who are prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Wornom, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau. The District Attorney thanked Supervising Account Investigator Peter Chicola of the District Attorney’s Financial Crimes Bureau, who assisted in the investigation, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Frank Puma and Principal Accountant Investigator Michael Vecchio. District Attorney Vance also thanked Detective Robert Cimino of the New York City Police Department’s Special Investigations Division.
RICHARD BASSIK, D.O.B. 5/31/43
Glen Cove, NY
• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, seven counts, a class C felony
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, six counts, a class D felony
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, one count, a class E felony
A class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison, and a class E felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.