The connections display the mayor’s enduring friendship with the brothers, who ran afoul of federal legislation a decade in the past and have since been concerned in culinary ventures that disadvantaged the federal government of tax income.
Adams has come below criticism for different relationships with individuals having previous transgressions — he angered LGBTQ individuals after appointing a former lawmaker with a historical past of anti-gay positions to a high-paying Metropolis Corridor gig. His group made an overture earlier this 12 months that will have helped a longtime pal who was expelled from the state Senate. And he named a deputy mayor for public security who was an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case.
Every month, the state Division of Taxation and Finance releases a listing of the highest 250 latest tax delinquents. In July, Ofshtein got here in at No. 78, climbing 23 spots since April.
Ofshtein owes $1.3 million in unpaid worker withholding and gross sales taxes stemming from Brooklyn eating places that, at one level, overlapped with the political realm.
In 2019, a well-liked Park Slope brunch spot known as Woodland became a flashpoint between a number of politicians who complained it was too rowdy, and Adams, who called critics racist as a result of the restaurant’s clientele was largely Black.
Again then, Brooklyn lawyer Frank Carone — who would go on to change into Adams’ chief of workers in Metropolis Corridor — represented the restaurant in a associated dispute with the State Liquor Authority.
On the time, Ofshtein and the brunch spot had already accrued almost $400,000 in unpaid state taxes, in accordance with the finance division’s July listing (the restaurant had additionally filed for chapter in 2015).
Within the years since, Ofshtein roughly doubled that excellent tab, even because the restaurant closed in 2020. The newest warrant was issued three months in the past.
Mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy mentioned Adams was unaware of the unpaid taxes, and that he helps all method of companies within the metropolis’s hospitality business. The mayor visits eating places, bars and music venues across the metropolis to advertise the town’s hospitality business, and that these stops don’t point out he’s related to any explicit location or operator, he mentioned.
Corporations and people land on the state’s listing of delinquents after failing to pay and ignoring authorities collectors, in accordance with the state. As soon as a cost is missed, curiosity begins accruing. Ultimately, the state can garnish wages or commandeer a enterprise.
On March 2, for instance, the tax division arrived at 327 Gold St. in Brooklyn and seized Forno Rosso, an upscale, Ofshtein-owned pizzeria that owed greater than $400,000 in unpaid taxes, according to a report in THE CITY.
The restaurant, the place Adams attended a ribbon cutting in 2014, helped land Ofshtein on the listing of delinquent taxpayers, regardless of receiving greater than $550,000 from the Paycheck Safety Program, a federal initiative designed to assist small companies climate the pandemic. Ofshtein has cited Covid as the principle cause behind the restaurant’s debt and closure.
In an e mail to POLITICO, the Brooklyn legal professional mentioned he entered right into a cost plan with the state greater than a 12 months in the past, however that clearing again taxes is tough due to always rising curiosity.
“The liabilities aren’t the most important subject, they might have been paid a very long time in the past,” he wrote. “The issue is the curiosity and penalties.”
The Petrosyants brothers can typically be seen out in town with the mayor at nightlife spots together with Zero Bond, the dear members-only membership the place Adams held his election night victory party.
In addition they have deep connections to the 2 eating places with excellent tax debt.
In 2011, the brothers had been indicted on 11 federal counts for allegedly participating in a check-cashing scheme that concerned medical billing corporations. In 2014, the brothers both pleaded guilty to 1 conspiracy rely every associated to the alleged scheme.
Robert Petrosyants was convicted of a felony, and sentenced to 6 months in jail and three years supervised launch, in accordance with court docket data. Zhan Petrosyants received 5 years’ probation, data present.
Earlier than they had been sentenced, household and associates wrote to the choose to plead for leniency, and Ofshtein described Robert Petrosyants’ central function at Woodland, in accordance with court docket data.
“Robert oversaw the development and eventual operation of this enterprise,” Ofshtein wrote within the sentencing letter. “He has at all times been and continues to be — to this present day — a vital and valued supervisor … I belief him to run each facet of this enterprise. Fairly frankly, I have no idea what I might do with out him.”
Zhan Petrosyants, Ofshtein mentioned, managed Woodland on nights and weekends, and has additionally promoted the restaurant.
As well as, Robert Petrosyants managed Forno Rosso, in accordance with Ofshtein, and was listed as a guarantor on the restaurant’s lease.
A number of items of public info have advised that the twins even have held possession stakes. That might have been an issue after their 2014 conviction — barring a pardon or a particular sort of waiver, the state doesn’t grant liquor licenses to eating places if an applicant or a enterprise companion has been convicted of a felony.
In 2013, earlier than his conviction, Robert Petrosyants listed himself because the proprietor of Woodland in a $1,000 donation to Adam’s borough president marketing campaign, in accordance to a report in DNAinfo.
However a 2016 lawsuit alleged that Robert and Zhan Petrosyants held monetary pursuits in Forno Rosso. The go well with accused the brothers and Ofshtein of mishandling an funding, and a part of the case continues to be ongoing.
Woodland and Forno Rosso are additionally amongst a number of Brooklyn and Manhattan eating places that an organization known as American Commonplace Hospitality Group has claimed to function.
A since-deleted web page on the corporate’s web site from 2018, American Commonplace Hospitality Group was described because the Petrosyants brothers’ firm, in accordance with a screenshot published by Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report.
“The journey of the Petrosyan [sic] brothers — Robert and Johnny — is inspiring. They’ve used the elements of success in proper portions to arrange the American Commonplace Hospitality Group,” the web page mentioned, noting the Woodland and Forno Rosso had been the primary two eating places to be owned and operated by the brothers.
Ofshtein has mentioned publicly, in court docket paperwork and in submissions to the liquor authority that he’s the only proprietor of each Woodland and Forno Rosso. His legislation agency additionally appeared on the registration paperwork for American Commonplace Hospitality Group when it was created in 2015, in accordance with state data.
Connections to La Baia
American Commonplace Hospitality Group, which payments itself as an funding and model administration firm, has additionally listed Osteria La Baia among the many handful of eating places it’s managed, in accordance with an archived model of its web site — marking one other connection to the town’s high Democrat.
Adams as soon as broke bread at La Baia with former Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo and took New York Occasions columnist Maureen Dowd for a chew whereas she was gathering string for a profile. In March, Adams paid the restaurant $1,000 for a reelection fundraiser, in accordance with marketing campaign finance data.
Throughout dinner and drinks with former Democrat Mayor Invoice de Blasio at La Baia in February, POLITICO observed Zhan Petrosyants seated close by.
Adams has mentioned that he met the brothers round 2014 and developed a detailed friendship with Zhan Petrosyants specifically, whom he mentored. An individual’s previous, he famous at a press briefing earlier this 12 months, shouldn’t solely outline them.
“Sure, I’m going to speak with individuals who have stumbled and fell,” Adams mentioned on the time. “As a result of I’m completely imperfect, and this can be a metropolis made up of completely imperfect individuals.”
In accordance with a liquor license utility, La Baia is solely owned by Shahmuradyan, who can also be the mom of Robert Petrosyants’ kids. Public data present she owns different eating places claimed by American Commonplace Hospitality — together with a downtown Caribbean eatery managed by Robert Petrosyants — and she or he has used an e mail deal with related to the group in utility paperwork.
In June 2020, Shahmuradyan instructed the liquor authority that she doesn’t share possession or any enterprise partnerships with Ofshtein, although the latter nonetheless supplies her with authorized recommendation and she or he works for his corporations occasionally.
“At one time limit, Mr. Ofshtein and I mentioned proudly owning eating places collectively, nonetheless, I made a decision that I didn’t wish to companion with Mr. Ofshtein, or anyone else for that matter,” she wrote.
Shahmuradyan didn’t reply to a request for remark. Zhan Petrosyants referred POLITICO to Ofshtein. And questions addressed to Robert Petrosyants, despatched to each Shahmuradyan and Ofshtein, weren’t answered.
Shahmuradyan additionally wrote that she has no official enterprise ties with both of the Petrosyants brothers. To the liquor authority, that will be an essential element, as a result of the state considers an applicant’s partner’s felony historical past when doling out licenses.
Robert Petrosyants and Shahmuradyan have typically given authorities officers a conflicting account of their home dwelling scenario.
In utility paperwork filed with the liquor authority Oct. 1, 2019, Shahmuradyan lists herself as single. However later that month, Robert Petrosyants filed an unrelated doc with the state Supreme court docket certifying he was her partner.
Eight months after that, Shahmuradyan wrote in an affidavit that, though she lives with Robert Petrosyants they usually have three kids collectively, they don’t seem to be married.
Julian Shen-Berro contributed to this report.