Dough due: a taxman seizes a pizzeria in Brooklyn supported by the ex-convict of the mayor Eric Adams

March 4, 2022

A Brooklyn restaurant backed by a convicted fraudster with longtime ties to Mayor Eric Adams was seized by the state this week for owing nearly $300,000 in taxes.

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Officials from the state tax department took over Forno Rosso on Gold Street on Wednesday, placing bright orange “SEIZED” stickers on the front door.

The Italian restaurant — whose ribbon cutting Adams attended — is partly funded by Robert Petrosyants, one of the restaurateur twin brothers who pleaded guilty in 2014 to participating in a money laundering scheme. Adams said he considers the brothers among his closest friends and said they deserve a second chance.

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“Yes, I will talk to people who have tripped and fallen,” the mayor once said when asked about his friendship with the Petrosyants brothers.

Now the New York State Department of Tax and Finance says the restaurant owners owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid New York corporate taxes, including $292,673.96 for Forno Rosso. .

Tax records list Akiva Ofshtein, a longtime Petrosyants lawyer, as a debtor.

Ofshtein said in an email to THE CITY that he is the sole owner of Forno Rosso.

But Robert Petrosyants and Ofshtein were sued in October by the owners of 327 Gold St., where Forno Rosso is located. The lawsuit includes a lease, which Petrosyants signed, which runs until April 2022 and names him as guarantor for the company leasing the premises, Prime Four Inc.

The Forno Rosso restaurant in downtown Brooklyn was seized by state agents for non-payment of taxes, March 2, 2022/Rachel Holliday Smith/THE CITY

In his email, Ofshtein claimed that “the lease is inaccurate and inaccurate as to Robert’s ownership”. Petrosyants did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The landlords claim they owe more than $363,000 in rent — and say the restaurant has stretched them over payment since April 2020, even though they have remained open throughout the pandemic, according to the lawsuit.

Forno Rosso received $550,600 in federal paycheck protection payment loans, records show, which the owners allege in the lawsuit that Petrosyants’ business distributed to other restaurants, including their Midtown restaurant. Osteria La Baia.

A spokesperson for the state tax department did not respond to email and calls seeking comment.

In an email, Ofshtein said it was working with the state to repay any taxes owed and said the landlord would not work with them to negotiate a fair settlement.

“Sadly, yesterday 15 hard working New Yorkers lost their jobs,” he wrote. “COVID-19 and then omicron was a double whammy that Forno Rosso couldn’t recover from.”

Long story

The 40-year-old twins, who live in Fort Lee, NJ, pleaded guilty in 2014 to roles in a medical billing check-cashing scheme that prosecutors say was designed to ‘evade wrestling reporting requirements against money laundering”.

Robert Petrosyants was sentenced to six months in federal prison for this conviction, while Johnny Petrosyants was sentenced to five years probation and 150 hours of community service.

Adams has appeared with the couple often since his early days as Brooklyn borough president. outraged attend the inauguration of Forno Rosso in 2014he also held at least one fundraiser at another of their restaurants, the controversial Woodland, on Flatbush Avenue in 2018.

Adams recently defended their friendship, pointing to the time he spent as a teenager in a juvenile detention center and saying their past convictions should not discredit them as people.

“I’m perfectly imperfect, and this is a city of perfectly imperfect people,” he told reporters at City Hall in February when asked about the brothers. “I don’t know if you know this, but I have a criminal history. I was arrested when I was 15.”

He added: “You’d be surprised at the type of people I counsel to get them back on track.”

Adams frequently hangs out with Johnny Petrosyants at restaurants and Zero Bond, NoHo’s members-only club, according to POLITICO New York.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the mayor declined to comment on tax issues. He described the mayor’s relationship with the Petrosyants, especially Johnny, as “one of friendship, mentorship and support”.

“It’s a personal relationship, and there is no business relationship, and there has never been a business relationship,” spokesman Max Young said in a statement.

The mayor’s chief of staff, longtime Brooklyn Democratic Party attorney Frank Carone, also represented the brothers when they ran into trouble with their liquor license in 2019, after neighbors complained noise in Woodland, according to court documents.

In a signed affidavit, an attorney for the State Liquor Authority said she felt threatened by Carone following a hearing in the case, alleging he shouted “f—ing liar” and ” f–k you” repeatedly while she and others were in a waiting room.

Carone, through the mayor’s office, declined to comment on the affidavit.

Outside Forno Rosso on Wednesday evening, locals stopped to admire the closed pizzeria, including a couple who lived next door and said they eat there three times a week.

“They seized that Italian restaurant we ate at the other night!” a passerby said into his phone while walking a dog.

Tammy, who lives in a nearby residential complex and declined to give her last name, said it was a great place to treat herself.

“If you’re a mom and all and need a little break, this is the best place to come,” she told THE CITY as she walked past with her young son. “It’s just surprising. It was just open two, three days ago!”

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