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Man Accused of Trying to Take NYC Hotel

Man Accused of Trying to Take NYC Hotel

It was a grand scheme befitting of a grand hotel. If Kouadio Kouassi had pulled off his audacious plan to take control of the SoHo Grand Hotel in lower Manhattan, he stood to make about $76 million, investigators said Friday.
The 46-year-old Brooklyn man tried repeatedly to file a phony deed with the city last month and get it recorded, transferring ownership of the hotel to himself, said Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city's Department of Investigation.
"This defendant foolishly thought he had engineered a clever and brash ruse to gain ownership of a significant commercial property," Hearn said. "He may now find himself sleeping in less glamorous accommodations."
Authorities said they caught a whiff of Kouassi's scam when an employee with the county clerk's office became suspicious after seeing him try to transfer the hotel's title.
The Hartz Group, which owns the hotel, said they didn't know Kouassi, and they had never agreed to sell the coveted property to him.
Kouassi has been charged with attempted grand larceny and two counts of offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in jail.
A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Investigation said Kouassi was awaiting arraignment and did not have a lawyer yet.
The swank SoHo Grand was built in 1996, created by contemporary designer William Sofield and constructed by architect David Helpern. It was the first hotel to arrive in the cobble-stoned neighborhood of fancy boutiques and art galleries in more than a century. Room rates fluctuate, but as of Jan. 7, a room with a king-size bed and flat screen would be about $324 a night, the hotel said.


Updated : 2021-02-26 20:30 GMT+08:00