The historic Amalgamated Housing Cooperative in Van Cortlandt Village has hired a new manager but some residents are concerned about his shady past.
In late June, the Board of Directors hired Charles Zsebedics to run the 1500-apartment complex — the oldest housing cooperative in the United States. They decided he was the best candidate for the job despite the fact that in 2000, he pleaded guilty to third degree grand larceny for participating in a criminal enterprise that defrauded residents and cooperators in Queens of $1.3 million.
As manager of Park City Apartments, Inc. for a company called Elm Management, Mr. Zsebedics was part of a scheme designed to provide lucrative kickbacks to himself, other employees of Elm and vendors doing business with the company.
He pleaded guilty and was forced to pay a $34,000 fine and serve five years probation, during which time he was not allowed to engage in any residential real estate business, though that sentence was reduced. The judge did allow Mr. Zsebedics to remain the manager of Park City and he did so for 10 more years, until September, because he said the judge did not see fit to remove him from that position.
The Amalgamated Board of Directors said they took Mr. Zsebedics past into consideration, but after weeding through more than 50 resumes he was by far the best candidate. The Board selected the five best candidates for interviews and Mr. Zsebedics and one other candidate were given second interviews. The Board then contacted nine of Mr. Zsebedics’ references, according to Board president Howard Kamiel.
“He was, by a very wide margin, the best candidate,” said Jerzy Warman, a board member with 41 years as a resident of the Amalgamated.
Mr. Zsebedics said he learned from his past and that it made him stronger. The board agreed.
Three board members, Mr. Kamiel, Mr. Warman and Ed Yaker all said they did not think Mr. Zsebedics’ past would prevent him from being a competent manager in the future.