The wealthy father of a University of Michigan student who was caught verbally abusing an Uber driver on video in March has been arrested and charged with 20 felonies.
The video of Jake Croman verbally abusing an Uber driver with gay slurs and insults has received over a million views on YouTube since it was uploaded on March 23.
Croman, a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity on his college campus, was recorded angrily cursing at Uber driver Artur Zawada. In the incident that occurred in Ann Arbor, Croman was recorded saying:
“Yeah, f*ck you, Artur, you little f*ggot f*ck. You wanna kick me off? Kick me off, you little piece of shit. You’re an Uber driver. Go f*cking drive, you little f*ck. Minimum wage f*ggot. Go f*ck yourself. You’re working all day? Guess what? I’m going to sit on my ass and watch TV. F*ck you.”
However, Croman claimed that his actions were provoked by Zawada’s alleged anti-Semitic remarks in a statement to Buzzfeed. In his Linkedin profile, Croman lists his job as an associate at his father’s real estate company.
Croman’s 49-year-old father, Steven Croman, happens to be a wealthy real-estate developer in New York City whose companies own more than 140 Manhattan apartment buildings. According to The New York Times, he frequently appears on the “worst landlords” lists and is known for pushing out his rent-regulated tenants either by buying them out of their leases for “relatively modest sums” or harassing them to leave.
His father is so despised by his tenants in fact, that they have joined forces to start a website against him called “Croman Tenants’ Alliance.” The aim of the website is to inform tenants of their rights. The front page of the site states:
“One of the tools aggressive landlords rely on is your sense of isolation, fear and helplessness. You are not alone. Don’t be afraid. You are not helpless. You have rights!”
The senior Croman recently made news after turning himself in to authorities on Monday. He was charged with 20 felonies that include grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records and a scheme to defraud. The New York State attorney general’s office, which has been conducting an ongoing two-year investigation, also filed a lawsuit against Croman that could see him forfeit his real estate business and pay back millions of dollars to his tenants.
He now faces up to 25 years in prison. It is coincidental that he and his son have been linked in the media. A disgruntled tenant who wishes to be anonymous told Nextshark:
“Again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m a tenant in one of his buildings and have been harassed myself, so please don’t use my name. I don’t think the Uber driver said anything about Jews. It’s the way they are, the Cromans’ way of trying to make the other look bad […] My point is, they are not saints, as they try to portray themselves to be. If I’m correct he is one of the top ten Slumlords in the city.”
Steven Croman is the highest-profile landlord in recent years to face serious criminal charges, reported The Times. The lawsuit from the attorney general’s office states that he had harassed and pressured “countless working-class and low-income families out of their longtime homes.” He owned buildings that spanned from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.