Olufemi Falade

'When it rains, it rains inside the building.'

Visited in their Staten Island home, 88-year-old Maratea and longtime companion Daphne Samuels are most gracious, and have only kind things to say about Falade. Maratea has been active in real estate since he was 16, and ran twin real estate and food businesses for 50 years before undergoing open-heart surgery in 1995. He came to be regarded in the area, in his own words, "like the Godfather—the good Godfather." Full of aphorisms ("If you give a wrong order to someone, they'll do it right away. If you give them a right one, it'll take forever" or "It's not wrong to be wrong if you're wrong"), Maratea suggests that Falade should quit his DEC job in order to stay on top of managing the properties. Of tenants, Maratea says, "You've got to minimize their ability to destroy. They know what to do not to pay rent."

"It's not wrong to be wrong if you're wrong," said Olufemi Falade's business associate, who's foreclosing on 1122 New York Avenue, where this bathroom collapsed.
photo: Olaf Bertram-Nothnagel
"It's not wrong to be wrong if you're wrong," said Olufemi Falade's business associate, who's foreclosing on 1122 New York Avenue, where this bathroom collapsed.

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    Along with the lessons he's passed on to Falade, Maratea is also not shy about disclosing some of the fringe benefits of Falade's owning properties once his. It was Maratea who originally showed an 1122 New York Avenue apartment to and negotiated the rent with ex-tenant Sandra Marcano, the plaintiff in the rent overcharge case. When Marcano won the case, she was awarded future income from the building to compensate her for the excess rent she'd paid Olufemi-Nostrand Realty, the Falade company that bought the property from Maratea in 1995. Now that Maratea has foreclosed on Falade and is preparing to retake control of the building, he's also preparing to punish Marcano, who has moved out but is still expecting the repayment called for in the court judgment. Since Marcano's claim is subordinate to Maratea's mortgage, he announces with some satisfaction: "We're gonna knock her out."

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