Metro

NYC says it will clear ‘squatter’ from hazardous basement pad

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The city will finally boot an alleged Brooklyn basement squatter — more than four months after declaring his pad illegal and “hazardous.”

The move by the Buildings Department comes amid a raging “only in New York” battle between the landlords of 1313 West Sixth St., a 24-unit building in Bensonhurst, and their former superintendent who dwells in the cellar.

Both sides accuse the other of harassment, bad behavior — and clogging the building’s pipes, causing sewage to back up.

The landlords say the super fought with tenants, even cursing at their kids, and once smashing his head into a barbecue. The super accuses his former bosses of turning him into a seven-days-a-week “slave” who was forced to shovel snow a week after having a heart attack.

Landlords John and Silvana DiMaggio said they axed super Anthony Venturelli in August after three years — and insisted to The Post he’d secretly built the illegal apartment in the basement, constructing walls and installing a kitchenette and stove.

Landlords John and Silvana DiMaggio
The DiMaggios inherited the building a decade ago from Silvana’s father.
Provided by John and Silvana DiMaggio

Venturelli claims the DiMaggios gave him the basement living quarters when he was hired in 2018, promising to move him into a regular apartment in the building when one became available, and never following through.

Each side accuses the other of calling the Buildings Department in August, but what’s not in dispute is the city’s Aug. 16 vacate order, which slapped the DiMaggios with at least $9,000 in fines for the illegal space, and declared no one should be living there.

The basement battle, and the city’s initial inaction, comes just weeks after 13 people died — many in flooded basement apartments — after Hurricane Ida swept through the five boroughs.

Anthony Venturelli
Anthony Venturelli has admitted he has nowhere else to go if he is kicked out of the basement.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure no one is living in an apartment under a vacate order, the DOB said, but the DiMaggios claim Venturelli ripped the vacate order off the basement entrance, going back in the same day and at times locking himself inside, refusing to leave.

Ever since, DOB and the NYPD have told the DiMaggios they must go to the city’s backlogged housing court to remove Venturelli, said the couple, who inherited the building a decade ago from Silvana’s father.

Anthony Venturelli
Venturelli, seen here banging his head into a barbecue, has had a tumultuous tenure as the building’s superintendent.

“I never gave him permission to sleep there,” John DiMaggio told The Post. “I never gave him permission to build himself a kitchenette. I never gave him permission to put a shower in. He had all the time in the world to do it. I wasn’t babysitting him.”

Venturelli worked in the building for a tumultuous three years, according to the DiMaggios, who provided video of the worker smashing his head into a barbecue in the yard while arguing with a tenant.

“He was constantly fighting with the tenants, yelling and screaming and even cursing at the children for not putting garbage in the right receptacle,” DiMaggio said.  

The couple sued Venturelli in Brooklyn Supreme Court earlier this month, accusing him of “hazardous and illegal” acts by living there.

West 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY
The building at the center of the dispute is 1313 West Sixth St., a 24-unit building in Bensonhurst.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

DiMaggio fears Venturelli could tamper with the building’s gas meter, circuit breaker or boiler.

“He has those controls and the fact that they don’t allow me to get back control of my own building — that’s a major problem. I’m asking for help and they’re not helping me,” he said of the city.

But Venturelli claims his time with the DiMaggios has been “menacing, harassing, and intimidating.”

“I never paid rent to begin with. I was the superintendent, this is the apartment he gave me,” Venturelli said, claiming he was paid just $400 every two weeks.

squatter basement entrance
This is the entrance to the basement that Venturelli has been living in.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

“I used to work eight, nine, 10, 11, 13 hours, as much as he could get me to. I was working seven days a week until I begged to have time off,” Venturelli said.

He admitted he has nowhere else to go.

“There’s no one to help me. I have no family to lean on,” he said, noting he cannot leave to even look for a new home because “I’m afraid my door’s gonna be kicked in and my stuff’s gonna be on the street.”

After inquiries from The Post, the Buildings Department said it would coordinate with law enforcement and enforce the vacate order “in the interest of public safety,” according to spokesman Alex Rudansky.

Anthony Venturelli
Venturelli accuses his former bosses of turning him into a seven-days-a-week “slave.”
J.C. Rice for NY Post

“If the DOB requests our presence for the enforcement of a vacate order, we will be present to ensure the safety of everyone present,” said Sgt. Jessica McRorie of the NYPD.

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