Shlomo Ruben, Another Alleged Victim of Bias, Reports Judge Viscovitch to FBI

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A second individual whose divorce case has been presided over by the tyrannical Judge William A. Viscovich of New York State Supreme Court, Queens County, has reported alleged biased and other improper actions by the judge to the FBI and to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office. 

Real estate developer Shlomo Ruben met with an FBI agent on March 18, 2024 and, separately, with two detectives and an assistant DA in the Queens County DA Melinda Katz’s office on March 19, 2024 to detail the alleged biased actions by Judge Viscovich in his divorce case.

Shlomo Ruben: Where is the justice?

On June 12, 2024, published an article detailing the case of Gorgui Mbaye whose divorce case was also presided over by Judge Viscovich. 

Mbaye also met with FBI agents and complained to the Queens DA’s office about alleged biased rulings by Judge Viscovich. The judge is notorious for threatening to lock up the parties he disfavors in divorce cases on Rikers Island. One victim Judge Viscovich ended up throwing on Rikers was Dr. Robby Mahadeo. The physician had objected to Viscovich’s order that he pay his wife’s attorney Alyssa Eisner more than $100,000 in legal fees even though the couple’s prenuptial agreement precluded such payments. Another person who incurred the wrath of Viscovich was Dr. Siranush Cholakian during her divorce case. Viscovich’s alleged biased rulings covered in a number of articles by this reporter was also featured on a segment on WNBC TV by investigative reporter Sarah Wallace. 

Four other parties have contacted this reporter about their own cases before Judge Viscovich. 

Shlomo Ruben’s divorce case has been presided over by Judge Viscovich since March 2020. The case is scheduled for trial in September 2024. 

Based on how Viscovich has handled the case so far, Ruben said he’s not confident he’ll get a fair trial. He’s offered many examples of alleged bias by Judge Viscovich, including the judge’s decision not to sanction his wife after she tried to conceal an SBA business loan by wiring part of it, $399,100, from the couple’s TD Bank business account to her niece Samantha Azizo Peleg’s account. The couple’s TD Bank business account statements show that Ms. Ruben received a total of $453,400 in SBA loans.

The couple operated a real estate development business that included a portfolio of 10 apartment buildings. Under the couple’s arrangement, Ruben ran the business while Ms. Ruben handled the finances. When the couple ended up in divorce court, each was entitled to equal division of the business, Ruben said. Yet, rather than share the SBA loan money, which would have allowed him to operate his share of the business, Ms. Ruben instead tried to hide the funds. 

Judge Viscovich dismissed Ruben’s complaint about the SBA loan and even dared him to report the matter to the IRS and sarcastically said maybe he’d “get a reward” for it. “How can a judge treat such an illegal action in such a cavalier manner?” Ruben asked. 

It was only after Ruben, through his previous attorney Erica Yitzchack threatened to file a separate lawsuit against Ms. Peleg that she transferred the money from the SBA loan to the escrow account of John Gemelli, Ms. Ruben’s powerful politically-connected lawyer. The money was released to Ms. Ruben by Judge Viscovich shortly thereafter, Ruben said.

Ruben claims Judge Viscovich became biased against him after his wife replaced her previous attorney with Gemelli. “The fact that the judge allowed my wife to transfer funds to her niece, Samantha Azizo Peleg, in violation of automatic orders speaks volumes about his bias in favor of John Gemelli, with whom he shares a 30-year relationship,” he said. 

Ruben refused to sign a stipulation by Viscovich that gave control of the receipts from the couple’s properties—and even the power to designate appraisers and determine the sale prices— to Joseph Trotti the trustee. Ms. Ruben signed the document. 

Ruben believes that Judge Viscovich and receiver Trotti intentionally wanted him cash-strapped to force him into selling his share of the couple’s properties for cheap. He notes that one of his properties located on 707 Dekalb Ave., in Brooklyn, was appraised by Neglia Appraisals, a company selected by Trotti for $1,575,000. Yet, Ruben was able to sell the property for $2,100,000, earning an extra $525,000. “This manipulation was intended to facilitate a sale to a trusted buyer aligned with their interests,” Ruben claimed.

Ruben had also consistently complained that he was being cash-starved because his wife was paying herself a disproportionately larger share of revenues from the couple’s properties, which made it impossible for him to operate his share of the business and to even make emergency repairs. “Judge Viscovich even ordered Trotti to give distributions to my wife while I was not to get any,” he said.

Ruben was referring to a March 28, 2023 letter by receiver Trotti to attorneys for both sides stating that Judge Viscovich had ordered that only Ms. Ruben was to receive distributions for child support. “There is no continuing order for Mr. Ruben to receive any monies at this time,” the letter stated.

Last year, Ruben complained about how his inability to make repairs jeopardized the lives of his tenants. The decking on a second floor apartment on one of his properties had collapsed and on March 25, 2023 pieces of concrete fell on the pavement below. Yet, Trotti, the receiver, refused to release funds for Ruben to make emergency repairs, he said. The tenant, Esther Heller, who had two young children, locked the door to the balcony and screwed it tight. Ruben didn’t even have enough money to replace light bulbs on hallways, or door handles and locks in his other properties, he said.

The receiver, Trotti, refused to address crucial repairs that were necessary for tenant safety and to mitigate non-payment issues,” Ruben said. “The negligence displayed here is alarming, as it could have resulted in someone’s death.”

The receiver somehow “lost tenants checks and would not accept electronic payments,” Ruben said. “I believe this was  an attempt to default on our mortgages so he can sell our properties below market value to a friendly investor aligned with their interests.”

There were many other examples of uneven distribution, Ruben said. When the couple sold a property at 140A Hull Street for $600,000, he only got about $75,000 in distributions, he says. Ruben believes the sale of the 140A Hull Street property prolonged the case and allowed Ms. Ruben’s attorney Gemelli more billable hours. “It was only after the money ran out that Judge Viscovich divided between me and my wife because I refused to sign the stipulation to sell,” he said. 

But Ruben never backed off and kept complaining about how Ms. Ruben was short-changing him and making it impossible for him to operate his share of the business. Finally, Judge Viscovich ordered an accounting of receipts and disbursements from the couple’s properties for the period March 2, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021. 

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Brisbane Consulting firm found that revenues amounted to $1,263,391 over the period examined. The firm also determined that the bulk of the disbursements, $1,076,407 went to Ms. Ruben, while Ruben’s allocation was only $162,782. This means he’s still owed $468,913.50, Ruben said. “How can I be confident that this judge will be impartial at trial when he’s already clearly displayed his bias up to this point?” he said. 

“This is the unfortunate reality of our court system. They are subjecting law-abiding citizens to such treatment for their own profit, skillfully navigating within the legal boundaries,” Ruben said. “If Viscovich had been an impartial judge, my wife would not have embezzled this money and would have settled this case.”

“The only reason the case went on this long is because Viscovich enabled her. Because it was good for Gemelli’s billing hours. His buddy of 30 years.”

Ruben said he’s always been uncomfortable about the cozy relationship between Judge Viscovich, Gemelli, and Trotti. “During one of my visits to Trotti’s office, he revealed his long-standing familiarity with Viscovich and Gemelli spanning over three decades,” Ruben said. 

“Judge Viscovich compounded my difficulties by forcing me to acquire new mortgages on all my properties, which severely impacted my income. Consequently, I was compelled to sell one of my properties,” Ruben said. “This entire situation was orchestrated due to Viscovich’s relationship with John Gemelli. I must mention that my wife did not hire John Gemelli as her attorney at first,” Ruben said. 

Ruben said due to Judge Viscovich’s “bias,” he concluded that a battle over child custody would be long, costly, ugly, and ruin relations between him and his four children. “I understood that this is a tactic often employed to prolong cases and exploit fathers by draining their financial resources,” Ruben said. “I made the difficult choice to focus on the bigger picture.” 

“This has severely strained my relationship with my children and is akin to child abuse,” he said.

The divorce case has now lasted over four years. Ruben said an attorney who is not involved in the case told him that Gemelli, the attorney now representing his wife once said attorneys don’t mind the slow pace because it lets them bill their clients more hours.

Judge Viscovich didn’t respond to questions for this article sent via e-mail message; Al Baker, spokesperson for the New York State Unified Court system also didn’t respond.

Gemelli, Ms. Ruben’s lawyer, also didn’t respond. 

Additionally, Azizo Peleg didn’t respond to a message seeking comment about the SBA loan wired to her account.

The spokesperson for the Queen’s county DA’s office also didn’t respond to questions sent via e-mail message.

The FBI’s office of public affairs didn’t respond to a message sent via e-mail seeking comment.

“I do not agree with Mr. Ruben’s summary of the facts……As to the portions of the case in which I was involved,” Trotti, the receiver, said in an e-mail message in response to questions.

If you’ve been the victim of perceived biased rulings by a judge and have detailed documentation please reach the author via [email protected] Spread the word.

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