Two sisters said they had to flee their East Harlem apartments after a landlord and her crew — including her Trump-supporting son — made life unbearable with increasingly ominous threats of harm and reports to immigration authorities.
But now they are fighting back to come home and stop the “relentless campaign of discrimination” being waged against them, according to their new Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
Araceli Ramos, 32, and younger sister Rosa, 29, lived in their apartments at the 115th street building for more than a decade. The problems started in January when the landlord, Diane Marrero Pedrez, told the women that they and the rest of the tenants would have to get out because “she intended to sell ‘her’ portion of the building.”
According to the suit filed Friday, the woman is the day-to-day manager and the executor of the estate that has a 50% interest in the building, which the suit says is worth $2.2 million.
That’s when the harassment started, the lawsuit says.
One time, Araceli was outside the building when Pedrez and a defendant, identified only as “Bob,” said Araceli had to leave.
Bob let it slip he knew where Araceli’s kids went to school. The same man allegedly referred to Araceli and her family as “immigrant pieces of s–t.”
Another time, Pedrez allegedly “lunged” at Rosa after another attempt to make her move out, the suit claims.
Get the best Harlem news in your inbox here.
Then there was the time that Bob and Morais Dicks — holding himself out as the new owner — warned the sisters that ICE would “clear out” the building if they didn’t leave, the suit says.
During one incident, Dicks allegedly brought along someone he called a “friend from INS.” The purported pal “wore a badge prominently,” the suit said.
The sisters were terrified — and looked for legal help from Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. After being contacted by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Pedrez allegedly told Araceli she shouldn’t have gotten attorneys in the mix.
When Telemundo, the Spanish-language TV network, reported on the threats on March 2, the case took a bizarre twist. With the Spanish-language channel’s staff still in the building, the landlord’s son was allegedly shouting from the top of his lungs outside.
According to the suit, the unnamed son yelled he was happy he’d voted for President Trump and he was tired of “all of these immigrants.”
The son said he was going to be sure someone “rounded up” the sisters and the rest of the family.
The lawsuit said things got even darker. Two days after Telemundo showed up, Dicks came back with demands the plaintiffs and their families leave.
“This is an old building and the boiler isn’t working very well. It could catch fire anytime, and no one would know if it was on purpose or not,” the lawsuit quoted him as saying.
The suit said Rosa and Araceli “were terrified that remaining in the building would result in immigration consequences for, or grave physical harm to, them and their family.”
Pedrez and Dicks did not respond to a call for comment Friday.
Ramos is being represented by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
The suit might not be the only issue for the landlords. The sisters’ lawsuit said the state Attorney General’s office has launched a probe into the alleged conduct of the defendants.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s office has also been working closely with these tenants. The speaker met with them last week and helped connect them with the AG’s office and legal service providers — and convinced them to sue, the office said.