Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stage owner Roman Diakun responds to allegations of illegally siphoning gas

[Image via Facebook]

The following was published yesterday on the Stage's Facebook page...

In response to the recent news, Roman Diakun, the proprietor of Stage Restaurant has released this statement:

We at the Stage Restaurant are deeply troubled by the landlord’s false allegations that we engaged in any illegal siphoning of gas. Stage is a long-standing restaurant with deep connections to the community – we have never siphoned gas, and have committed no wrong.

In response to a complaint made by one of the residential tenants of the Building, Con Edison turned off the gas to the entire building, including Stage’s gas supply as a precautionary measure in light of the recent tragic events that transpired on March 26, 2015.

Con Ed promptly came to the Building and performed an inspection, which made no findings that Stage had ever tampered with the meters or pipes. In connection with restoring gas services to Stage, a licensed plumber determined that Stage needed to replace one of the pipes servicing Stage.

In an effort to remedy the issue as quickly as possible, Stage commenced work prior to obtaining what was later learned to be a necessary work permit, and a stop work order was issued. Stage immediately complied with the stop work order, paid the fines thereon and hired a licensed plumber to apply for the proper applications to perform this work, so that Stage can get back to servicing the community it has had the pleasure to serve for the last 35 years. Stage has requested that the Landlord sign off and cooperate with Stage’s efforts in this regard.

However, to date, Stage has been unable to secure the Landlord’s consent to completing this repair work, which is vital to the safe and continued operations of Stage, as well as for the safety of the community. Stage has requested that the Landlord withdraw the termination notice, and cooperate with Stage’s efforts; however, the Landlord in not interested in promptly remedying a potentially dangerous issue at the Premises, but instead the Landlord is seizing on the recent tragic events as an opportunity to wrongfully evict us for reasons unknown to us.

The building has several violations which are not related to the present issue, and none are indicative of the Landlord’s spurious and malicious claims that Stage has engaged in any wrong-doing other than overzealously attempting to remedy a potentially dangerous condition.

As amNY reported on Tuesday, Joseph Goldsmith, a lawyer for landlord Icon Realty, believes that the Stage was "trying to cover up the siphoning that they had previously done and the Department of Buildings went for an unnanounced inspection and caught them in the act."

Goldsmith told amNY that Icon is waiting for gas use records and pictures that a DOB inspector had taken during the visit in late March.

Bedford + Bowery has more from both Goldsmith and Diakun here.

Previously on EV Grieve:
The possibility that the Stage won't reopen on 2nd Avenue

City serves stop work order on Icon Realty-owned building for installing gas pipe without permit across from deadly 2nd Avenue blast zone (48 comments)

Petition to help reopen the Stage

Tenants at 128 2nd Ave. file suit against Icon Realty in housing court

Troubling talk about 128 Second Ave, and the long-term future of the Stage

[Updated] Report: Icon Realty serves the Stage an eviction notice


Anonymous said...

As much as I am on the side of the restaurant they make a really big mistake by hiring a non-licensed plumber to work on the gas line. This may have been okay 30 years ago when the city completely ignored the EV like it didn't exist. There are very good reasons for these regulations and if you don't this I should not need to remind you what happened across the street when gas pipes are messed with. If you own a business or even rent an apartment any misstep will be taken advantage of by landlords to get you out.

Anonymous said...

Let me start off by saying that I am fan of STAGE. Yet I find it hard to believe that after being in business for 35 years that Roman didn't know that one would need a licensed plumber with permits to perform GAS related repairs :/

If I were ROMAIN I would publish my ConEdison bills up ASAP.

Giovanni said...

Before all the landlord trolls start postng their anti-tenant, anti-small business nonsense let's just get this out of the way: you are all full of crap. No tenant ever gets evicted with just two weeks notoce based on some unproven landlord allegation. Ever. And you can't name one that this has ever happened to because it never has.

The letter the landlord slapped on Stage is just a typical landlord bullying tactic, smiliar to the letter recently sent to tenants at another building on 1st Avenue telling tenants the building was unsafe and that everyone just needed to move out, which was proven false.

But you landlord trolls know that already, since it's probably your full time job coming up with this kind of crap. It must be so fun and rewarding destroying businesses and people's lives all in the name of profits and "property rights" as if that gives them the right to do anything.

Luckily we still have laws in this country to prevent you from doing what you would do if you had the power to do anything you want. Hitler (yes, I'm going to go there since Hitler is the best comparison for so many of you landlords out there) was Germany's landlord. He did whatever he wanted to the people who lived there, and look how that worked out.

lue glass said...

icon is the pure landlord trying to do the right thing for his tenants while diakun is certainly the sneaky tenant that wants to steal gas.
all the other problems with permits, tenant harassment, etc. in this and other icon buildings?
oops!! big mistakes.
the score is in: landlord's mistakes, tenant's crimes.

Anonymous said...

Although I feel for Roman, this country is becoming one big "no consequences" republic. As a business owner you have the RESPONSIBILITY to know what's in your lease and for what you need permits and for what you don't. If the guy had any doubts or concerns if the type of work he was going to do required permits and/or Con Ed authorization, he should have walked across the street and asked any number of the DOB and Con Ed inspectors that were in the area. Ignorance might be bliss, but it can also get you evicted if you signed a document stating that you would conduct your business by its terms. That being said, I definitely think ICON should try to work with him to have this resolved.

Anonymous said...

100% support to Roman and the Stage!!!!!

Anonymous said...

8:19 and 8:26,

Where does it say that Stage used an unlicensed plumber? I've read the statement over and over and it does not say that. It says that Stage did not receive a necessary work permit, but nothing about an unlicensed plumber

So go shill somewhere else.

Anonymous said...


Tenants have to follow the letter of their lease. But landlords can flaunt the law. That is the reality.

Anonymous said...

Oh, transparent Icon sockpuppets, please GTFO with your "Oh, I like Roman, such a shame, but the restaurant must go or else it will be ANARCHY and everyone will be siphoning gas all over the neighborhood and buildings will be blowing up and shit."

Anonymous said...

Do you follow the laws, ICON Realty? How come you have so many violations in all the buildings you buy?

Anonymous said...

Renting an apartment from Icon Realty was the worst decision I've ever made. Icon slaps a new coat of paint on old apartments and grossly overcharges for them. I lived in a $2600/month unit in the East Village that was less than 350 sqft; my neighbor paid less than $1000/month on his rent.

When I moved in, they were still renovating the building. What this APPARENTLY entailed:

- NO GAS for 3 MONTHS. For some reason, they felt it was necessary to spend 3 whole months to fix the gas in the building. From February to May 2011, I was not able to use my stove in any capacity. To add insult to injury, management sent us an old hot plate in April that was so effective I could touch it with my bare hands at maximum heat.

- REPLACING STAIRS DURING RUSH HOUR. How would you like to wake up in the morning, stumble out of your front door, and find out that your staircase has been ripped out and you need to climb out over the leftover frame? Yes, this actually happened.

- WATER HEATER "EXPLODED". Exact words from our super. Plus, hot water outages occurred at least twice a month.

- NO MAIL FOR A MONTH. Our mailboxes were taken out and we had to get mail from the post office for a whole month.

- FRONT DOOR REPLACED WITHOUT HANDLE. Management apparently decided that people did not need to get in or out of the building over the weekend. When they replaced our front door on Friday, they did not think it necessary to add a handle so anyone could actually get in or out. Forget a lock--I had to jam my fingers into the door frame just so I could get it open. What if there had been a fire? Then again, I doubt if this company cares much if their tenants burn to death.

If you're OK with living in this hell on Earth, you'd better prepare to never move out. Because if and when you do, Icon will make sure to milk you for every dollar of your security deposit. Accidentally left a mark on the inside of your closet wall? You're paying for it. Forget to re-caulk your bathroom tiles? They're "filthy"--better be prepared to pay for that too.

These guys are the worst of the worst. Stay far, far away.

bowboy said...

"Stage commenced work prior to obtaining what was later learned to be a necessary work permit"

-- everyone here supports Stage and no one likes Icon. Me too. But no one buys this comment. If you didn't know a work permit was necessary, it's only because you didn't want to know. It's really not that hard to figure out. I hope that they can come to an agreement and move forward, but Roman has dug a hole and made it really hard for us neighbors to stand with him. good luck, Stage.

Elle Sturm said...

It really sucks that Mr. Diakun was in the wrong, but I'm not sure that his actions legally warrant immediate eviction. This whole thing really does reek of opportunism.

Anonymous said...

i f*#%ing knew it! go, roman!

Anonymous said...

Icon has to be one of the worst managing agents. These kids would kick their own mother out of their apt.

chris flash said...

ICON's transgressions far outweigh anything that the STAGE's plumber might have done. I'm sure that if this goes to court a reasonable judge will have to agree that STAGE has a right to perform the landlord's obligations in the event of landlord's failure to do so.

As I've already said, STAGE needs to go on the OFFENSE, starting with a STAY OF EVICTION, followed by an ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE as to why ICON shouldn't be forced to correct conditions and violations interfering with the operation of STAGE's business, to pay for STAGE's damages and lost income and for an extension of STAGE's lease due to ICON's breaches of the Lease Agreement.

Roman CAN win this, as ICON is entering the battle with DIRTY HANDS. The transgressor cannot claim to be a victim!!

Marcos said...

So the gas was shut off while these repairs were attempted and Con Edison would have to inspect and approve the work before it could be turned back on? If that's the case then this is a plausible honest mistake and not a recklessly careless action that would endanger the building and its tenants.

dwg said...

The Stage owner may have made a mistake, but Icon is notorious for bad upkeep and tenant harassment. Don't believe for an instant they had tenant safety or concerns on their minds when they took action against the Stage.

Anonymous said...

good point Marcos--

If the gas is shut off, why is it a big deal the plumber was working on the pipes without a permit?

Anonymous said...

The Villager has much more on what a nightmare that Icon has been snce they bought the building in 2013:

The recent stop-work order and eviction notice against the restaurant follow more than a year of court battles involving several other tenants of No. 128 and the landlord after Icon purchased the building in October 2013.

Tenants claimed that after Icon purchased it, the building’s condition has declined drastically. Fire-escape steps and railings are broken, an extra front door for security at the building’s entrance swings open and there’s excessive construction dust, they say. Fire alarms and windows are also broken throughout the building, according to several tenants who spoke to The Villager.

Meanwhile, John Serdula, who heads the building’s tenants association, charged that Icon is trying to clear out one half of the building, whose tenants are still rent-controlled or rent-stabilized, in order to renovate and rent out apartments at a higher market value.

“We always had heat and hot water,” Serdula said. “Once Icon took over, we didn’t have heat for a month and then longer. They’re trying to drive people out.”

Yuppie@166 Second Ave. said...

I think everyone agrees that Icon is the worst of the worst among NYC landlords. The only way they will change is if people (my fellow yuppies included) stop renting the horrible newly renovated apartments they try to sell. Even NYU students (including incoming students) need to be warned. Presumably even the most annoying of the NYU crowd (this past Saturday night was absolute mayhem on second ave.) would try to avoid slumlords.

(Also, hi everyone! I just discovered this blog and felt compelled to join so that I can express the POV of the non-transient yuppies who actually give a shit about and respect the EV. Yes, we do exist.)

Anonymous said...

Roman should fight this eviction with everything he's got, b/c ICON has nothing.

I would dearly love for NYC to INVESTIGATE Icon in its entirety - investigate every last building they own and/or manage - and see what negligent SOB's they are.

I live on a block where Icon bought a building and (among many things) they removed the sprinkler system while tenants were still in residence - and they also removed the bulkhead door at the roof (so that rain would flood the apartments below).

That is just a taste of what Icon does, and the reason that more than one of their buildings is currently under a full stop work order.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that ICON might be making a huge mistake by going after Stage . . .with any luck, it will backfire in a big way . . . and a wide range of city and state agencies will be taking a very close look at the properties, records, and business practices of ICON. They have been skirting (at best) the law for years and screwing their tenants over and over.

Anonymous said...

Tenants and businesses need to band together, share information, and stand their ground.
A strong and united front applying pressure on city officials can produce results. The day of reckoning is coming

Anonymous said...

Must be nice to have your own group of internet trolls to flood comment boards to say what a "pure landlord" you are and so blameless, and to point fingers at your enemies to try to sway the court of public opinion and to do the sneaky slander so you can stay "uninvolved".
**You have my support, Stage!! Icon must go. The iconic STAGE must stay.** #SaveNYC

Anonymous said...

People need heat and hot water. Why doesn't the city step in and make the repairs, then bill the landlord? This is an emergency situation. Where is Bill de Blasio in all of this? If the tenants want to organize a protest at City Hall, demanding the city step in and help these tenants, I will join them, and I am sure a lot of other East Village residents will do so.

Ursula Lux said...

anon@12:59 and Yuppie@166 Second Ave move in anywhere you like...BUT GET YOUR RENT HISTORY!!!
Too many stabilized units are gone because people don't know their rights! Call, you've got nothing to lose!

Anonymous said...

ICON Realty has 89 Open Violations at 128 Second Avenue.

Anonymous said...

Friday night's rooftop party at Icon Realty's 205 Avenue A:

Back in June, we heard from some unhappy neighbors living near the newly renovated (and now taller) 205 Avenue A — a property billed as an "East Village frat house" in ads.

For several months, neighbors said that they've had to endure various DJ-fueled rooftop parties between East 12th Street and East 13th Street.

When landlord Icon Realty didn't respond to noise complaints, nearby neighbors took up the issue with the offices of Councilmember Rosie Mendez and State Sen. Brad Hoylman. The address was also a topic during June's Ninth Precinct Community Council meeting. Any progress to note? Yes, apparently the parties are as loud as ever.

Is Rosie Mendez actually in the City Council? Her office doesn't seem to do much of anything to help with the quality of life issues in her district, which is the main issue everyone seems to have. Rosie Mendez most likely receives campaign contributions from Icon Realty, what else?
These DeBlasio-loving millenial bozos are ruining the neighborhood. They're self-entitled , and are destroying the fabric of this community.

streeteditions@j said...

Just pray you don't wind up with a corrupt judge as Housing Court & landlord $$$s are contagious in my experience!