A Cantor Fitzgerald executive accused of exploiting pandemic-related protections to squat in a $10,000-a-month Hamptons mansion says he and his wife have been harassed and humiliated by false accusations and ‘defamatory memes’ sent to his bosses by the homeowner and prospective buyer.
Paul Pion, the chief administrative officer of the Manhattan firm, and his wife, Stephanie, alleged in court papers filed Wednesday that Damian Krause and owner-to-be Aaron Appel had conspired to paint his family as ‘squatters’ and ‘hoarders’ in a bid to force them out of the $5million property in Water Mill.
It follows a suit against the Pions by Krause Estates LLC, which accused the wealthy family of exploiting a COVID-related ban on evictions to remain in the gated four-bedroom mansion after their lease expired on May 31 – despite the couple allegedly owning an apartment in Manhattan.
But hitting back in an affidavit seen by the New York Post, Pion rejected the claims and also alleged that Krause and Appel were ‘behind a series of defamatory memes that were sent to media outlets and the executive management of Cantor Fitzgerald, questioning my ethics, in a blatant effort to cause reputational harm’.
Stephanie and Paul Pion (left) have been renting out a property in Water Mill for the past two years for $10,000 a month. Homeowner Damian Krause (right, with his wife Sharon) says they are now squatting in the property
The memes were not described in the filing, but one image sent to the Post shows him in a mock-up of a Dos Equis beer’s The Most Interesting Man in the World commercial
The house was allegedly described as a ‘mess’. However, photos obtained by DailyMail.com suggested it was tidy
The memes were not described in the filing, but one image sent to the Post shows him in a mock-up of a Dos Equis beer’s The Most Interesting Man in the World commercial.
Pion’s face is seen super-imposed Jonathan Goldsmith, with the caption: ‘Hurricane Paul Pion Sez. I don’t always make landfall in the Hamptons – but when I do, I remain for years until Suffolk County Superior Court chases me out!’
The suit went on to accuse Appel of using private investigators to ‘harass’ his family.
‘In addition to a secret video of the home where my wife and children live being leaked on the internet, within days of this filing, my wife’s personal cell phone number and email address was subscribed to dozens, if not hundreds, of ”spam” advertisement lists and newsletters (causing her to receive hundreds of unsolicited texts and emails), and numerous doctor’s appointments were made in her name, forcing us to change her cell phone number,’ he claimed in the court document.
Pion also denied ‘maintaining a residence in Manhattan or anywhere else’ and said he had been trying to buy a house from Krause before the purchase broke down.
In previous court papers he and his wife have claimed that they were never formally served notice to leave.
Appel, a commercial real estate banker, told the Post: ‘I have no comment. I have nothing to do with this other than I am closing on a house.’
Dailymail.com has contacted Krause for comment.
Last month, Pion’s wife, Stephanie, broke down in tears and explained that the couple and their two children have nowhere else to go.
‘I’m not squatting, I’m just trying to keep my kids with a roof over their heads,’ Stephanie told Dailymail.com on June 17.
The 39-year-old insisted ‘there’s no truth’ to the claims she and her husband were using ‘shifty’ means to stay in the house and exploiting a New York moratorium on evictions for tenants who ‘declare a financial or medical hardship’ from the pandemic until August 31.
Stephanie she’s just trying to care for her two children, ages six and 11, while they search for a new place to live.
‘I have two kids,’ she said tearfully before dropping to her knees on the driveway and pleaded for mercy. ‘I’m just trying to take care of them. I’ve been trying to leave. I just need more time.’
The property is valued at nearly $5million, and the homeowner has found a new buyer for it. The Pions alleged in court papers filed Wednesday that Damian Krause and owner-to-be Aaron Appel had conspired to paint his family as ‘squatters’ and ‘hoarders’
The Pions say the house was built in the 90s and has not received proper upgrades or maintenance since
A source close to the Pions claimed the couple has spent tens of thousands of dollars of their own to maintain the properties systems ‘which are old and in need of constant repair’
In his filing, Krause expressed concerns that the Pions could jeopardize his plasn to sell the home for $4,970,000.
But a person close to the family told DailyMail.com that the Pions’ tenancy had been open-ended, and that the landlord failed to give them appropriate notice that their lease was being terminated which would allow for an orderly transition to leave the house.
‘Realizing now that they didn’t give proper notice, the owner is scrambling to blame someone and the purchaser is using bully tactics to force their hand,’ the Pion family associate said.
The homeowner further claimed the couple had refused to allow potential buyers to tour the home and even once removed a lawn sign saying the property was ‘IN CONTRACT.’
Early last month a source told the New York Post that the house looked like an episode of Hoarders, referring to the TV series that documents people who fill their homes from floor to ceiling with trash and belongings.
An appraiser who was eventually let into the house also allegedly described the place as a ‘mess’ and said ‘the occupant was crazy.’
In photos obtained by DailyMail.com, however, the house did not appear to show such signs of damage or clutter.
In regards to the lawsuit, Stephanie said: ‘I’m not allowed to comment because of the litigation,’ but went on to deny the claims.
‘There’s no truth to what they say,’ she added. ‘I don’t have a city apartment. I’m not a billionaire, or whatever they make me out to be.
‘The house is a very clean house. But I’m a normal person. It’s not a showhouse. It’s a teardown. The house was built in the 90s and it hasn’t been touched,’ she continued. ‘The landlord never did anything.’
Stephanie Pion broke down in tears in July as she strongly denied claims that she and her husband, Paul, were squatting
The mother-of-two, 39, tearfully explained she and her family have nowhere else to go, before dropping to her knees on the driveway and pleading for ‘more time’
The filing painted the Pions as an ‘intolerable nuisance’, hosting large parties, and causing damage to the home through ‘unauthorized alterations, misuse and overuse of the household systems and lack of routine maintenance.’
But the family source told DailyMail.com: ‘The house has been a money pit for the Pions as they have spent tens of thousands of dollars to maintain the property’s systems which are old and in need of constant repair.’
The insider claimed the owner pocketed the years rent all upfront and therefore ‘had all the leverage to tell the family to make the repairs themselves.’
Stephanie also confirmed reports that she and her husband were at one point considering buying the house in 2019, but explained, cryptically, that the deal never happened.
‘He (the landlord) wanted to do it, an exchange, and I said, being a nice person, ‘okay, no problem.’ And then he didn’t put a penny into it,’ she said.
The house, located on Flying Point Road, is surrounded by pine trees and not visible from the road.
It’s located about a half mile from the beach and considered modest given the luxurious estates located just down the street.
One neighbor said he’d never met the Pion family but noted he has heard music blaring from their rental, particularly on weekends when he’s seen as many as 10 to 15 cars parked in the driveway.
The homeowner claims the Pions have become an ‘intolerable nuisance’, regularly hosting large parties and could potentially jeopardize the sale of the home
Pion’s lawyer, Anthony W. Cummings, is representing a second homeowner caught up in another Hamptons ‘squatting row’.
Holocaust survivor Genya Markon returned from Israel to find her tenant refusing to leave her home, and claimed the renter ‘totally destroyed’ her furniture and left piles of trash to rot outside.
The 78-year-old spends the winters in Israel and the summers at her $675,000 home in Hampton Bays – which has been in her family since it was purchased by her parents in 1967.
But Markon said she flew home to the Hamptons only to find her tenant, Julie Rinke, still there and the place covered in trash, as seen in photos provided to DailyMail.com.
She has since filed a lawsuit seeking to force Rinke out of the home and accusing her of falsely claiming to be protected under New York’s coronavirus-related ban on evictions.
DailyMail.com photos show Rinke arriving at the home on Friday – nearly a month after the lease she signed in July 2020 ended.
Markon said Rinke ‘begged’ her to sign another lease so she could return after the summer, but still never left.
Instead, Markon said Rinke ‘signed a pandemic hardship application saying she does not have the funds to find another house’.
‘That is of no interest to me at this point, this is my house!’ Markon told DailyMail.com. ‘I returned, flew in 6,000 miles, and I want to spend my summer here.’
Pion’s lawyer, Anthony W. Cummings, is also representing a homeowner caught up in a second Hamptons ‘squatting row’. Holocaust survivor Genya Markon returned from Israel to find her tenant refusing to leave her home
Tenant Julie Rinke, a real estate agent, was spotted by DailyMail.com at the property on Friday
Markon said that she had gone without renting the home during the winters for 10 years because she was ‘wary’ about potential tenants.
‘I didn’t know who would want to live in Hampton Bays in the winter. Then I learned there were real estate agents who deal with winter rentals,’ Markon said.
‘I rented it to this woman, Julie Rinke, who presented herself as an interior decorator. She had two daughter who were in college, one a freshman and one a sophomore.’
Markon ultimately leased the home out to Rinke in July 2019 and the lease would have expired on June 18, 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The landlord could not return from Israel because ‘there were no planes’ and ‘nobody was traveling’ so she decided to renew Rinke’s lease for another full year from July 1, 2020 to June 18, 2021.
Then, Markon said she started to see signs of trouble as Rinke allegedly used the pandemic in an attempt to persuade her not to return home.
‘In January, I already told her I was returning to the United States to spend my summer,’ Markon said.
‘She kept trying to persuade me that I would be endangering myself to COVID and find all kinds of excuses not to say that she was leaving.’
Markon has also accused Rinke of damaging furniture and leaving trash to fester
Markon has accused Rinke of leaving piles of garbage outside of the house, pictured, some of which does not appear to be bagged
Markon has said Rinke did not have permission to move furniture, like a couch pictured standing on its side
Piles of dirty dishes appear to have been placed inside of the home’s garage
Smelling trouble, Markon said she offered to waive two months of Rinke’s rent in April in a bid to get her to leave the home by the time she returned.
‘I said, ‘I will waive your May and June rent if you sign this and promise me you will be out.’ Of course she didn’t sign it, and by that time I hired a lawyer,’ Markon said.
She added: ‘It was already clear to me that this woman was doing whatever she could to stay in my place.’
Markon has also accused Rinke of trying to blackmail her into paying her to leave, even after the landlord said she offered to waive months of her rent.
The landlord recounted Rinke saying: ‘Well, if Genya wants to pay me some of my rent, I’ll consider it and I’ll be out of here as soon as possible.’
‘So she wants to blackmail me after she’s destroyed my belongings and turned my life upside down,’ Markon said.
The irked landlord said Rinke ‘never imagined’ that she would return from Israel.
‘She had the audacity to think I wouldn’t get on a plane and come back here,’ Markon said.
Southampton Town police were seen approaching Rinke at the home while she was parked inside of her Jeep
Southampton Town policeman talks with the neighbor where a Hamptons squatter allegedly trashed her rental home
Markon also told DailyMail.com that she was ‘astounded’ by the condition in which she found her home.
‘She said that she had permission to change beds and move furniture around, which is absolutely not true,’ Markon said.
‘She had no permission to bring in a dog or a cat, which I understand now she is declaring she had permission.’
Police officers were seen approaching Rinke while she sat in a vehicle outside the home on Friday. It was not immediately clear what police had said to Rinke.
On Thursday, Rinke was spotted by DailyMail.com returning to the three-bedroom, two bathroom property.
Rinke was seen on Thursday returning to a home owned by Holocaust survivor Genya Markon, 78 – which Rinke was supposed to vacate on June 18. Markon has now taken Rinke to court to try and force her from the property
Markon’s home in Hampton Bays was leased in July 2020, and was due to be handed over on June 18. Rinke, however, remains in the property
Rinke, a real estate broker, is accused by Markon of taking advantage of laws against eviction which were designed to prevent landlords taking advantage during the pandemic. Markon says her short-term lease does not apply
Cummings filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Supreme Court at the end of June seeking Rinke’s ouster as well as damages.
‘She traveled all the way from Israel to spend the summer in her home and she has a tenant who won’t vacate,’ explained Cummings, according to the New York Post. ‘Genya is in a real bad spot.’
Markon said that Rinke is taking advantage of pandemic protection against eviction, designed to prevent unscrupulous landlords in New York from forcing people from their homes during the global crisis.
But the protection should not apply to short-term leases, Markon said.
‘My tenant, who is also a real estate agent, refuses to leave in spite of the fact that she only has a seasonal lease and is not protected by the hardship application she filed,’ Markon said.
Cummings questioned Rinke’s qualifications, claiming in court filings that she ‘is conducting herself in a bad faith, dishonest and manipulative way to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic and the mass confusion and gridlock in the lower courts all in an effort to block surrendering possession of the Premises.’
Cummings told the New York Post: ‘All you have to do is check a box and you can stay for free until at least August 31st. What is it? The honor system? It is easy to abuse. There’s no penalty for lying, and no evidence to prove.’
Rinke is also accused of failing to protect the property.
Some of Markon’s belongings have been ‘totally destroyed’ and Markon found ‘piles of garbage’ festering outside the house.
Rinke also took down paintings already hanging in the space, Markon claimed.
She said that some of the paintings ‘are quite valuable including a family portrait by the well-known Ukrainian painter David Burliuk.’
Cummings concluded: ‘She displaced Genya and refuses to give back her home. Genya flew in all the way from Israel and now she’s the one without a home.’
A Southampton town police officer is seen talking to a neighbor, next to the home where Rinke is refusing to leave
Markon’s home, set back from the road, is where she usually spends her summers but now she says she has nowhere to go