Friday, June 19, 2009

Extortion of Small Business in New York

Mayoral candidate Tony Avella joined nearly 70 business owners and advocates at City Hall on Wednesday and called for a federal investigation. According to evidence and testimony, extortion and corruption are running rampant in New York City. After speaking with business owners Avella said, “What I heard was shocking. Merchants are being extorted to renew their leases or sell their businesses.” Support for this charge has come in the form of a survey conducted by the USA Latin Chamber of Commerce. The group surveyed 927 Latin-owned businesses in NYC and found that 31% of small business owners have had money extorted from them by landlords and agents as a condition of negotiating a lease renewal. “This is a dirty little secret in New York,” said Miguel Parabons, president of the group. Former business owner Ramon Nunez reported that his former landlord asked him to pay $50,000 under the table to renew his lease. He refused and was forced to close his meat market on 136th street in September, 2008. Quenia Abreu, president of the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce said that business owners come to her office every day complaining about extortion.

According to the public leaders attending the event, Tony Avella is the first person to address this issue publicly on a large scale. He is encouraging all business owners to step forward and submit their statements to prepare a case for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

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