Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #302
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Thursday, January 3, 2013
James group trying to block expulsions from Arts Club

                                                                                      Photo by Heather Holland/T&V       An apartment that had previously been controlled by O. Aldon James before it was cleaned shows a hoarded room and a bathroom with a floor caked in feces.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel  

Former National Arts Club President O. Aldon James, his twin brother John James and former club member Steven Leitner filed a petition in the New York State Supreme Court last Friday, seeking to block the decision by the club last February to expel them.  

The recently filed petition, originally reported by The Real Deal, challenged the NAC's claim, which stated that none of the three men live in apartments in the building any longer. An unnamed source familiar with the dispute corroborated the NAC's claim, saying that all but one of the leases have expired and the James brothers and Leitner actually live at 41 Park Avenue, a building in Murray Hill at East 36th Street. 

The petition, however, says that Aldon James has been a tenant in the building since 1986, John James since 1986 and Leitner has been living there since 1971. If the three are ultimately expelled from the building, they would no longer be allowed to live in the below-market rate apartments at 15 Gramercy Park South.

The Real Deal noted that this new filing also denied some of the allegations described in a suit filed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in September of last year, which said that James had abused his authority as president to control more than a dozen apartments and other rentable spaces in the club and that he had used club funds on personal shopping sprees. This abuse of power allegedly cost the club about $1.5 million in potential rent income.  

Additionally, James also hoarded spaces he controlled at the club, leaving some, like an apartment he used, filthy and unusable until the club had them cleaned.

Neither Roland Riopelle, the attorney for the National Arts Club, nor Ira Glauber, who is representing the three men, returned requests for comment on the case.