Two years after Paul A. Rinfret was arrested in Manhasset for running a $19 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded six investors. Sentenced to 63 months in prison, his home on Bourndale Road North remains empty, overtaken by vines.
The “zombie house” was a subject at the Sept. 13 Plandome Heights Board of Trustees meeting. According to Mayor Kenneth C. Riscica, neighbors in the area are getting fed up with the abandoned property that had grass growing reportedly three-feet-tall before the village took the matter into its own hands.
“What makes it a zombie house is that his assets, as they’ve been recovered, will be used to pay back his victims,” Riscica said. “Some have reported that they’ve stripped the house bare, some have reported that it’s due for an inspection… but the most visible problem is that they don’t maintain the property.”
The neighbors find the property to be unsafe, Riscica said, attracting pests like mosquitoes.
“We’ve been reluctantly maintaining, cutting the lawn periodically,” Riscica said. “We have been having internal discussion about how we deal with this. Do we fine them? Who pays us?”
Riscica said the village has been issuing appearance tickets in order to issue a fine, and in the meantime will continue to cut the lawn.
“I mean we can keep issuing appearance tickets…to let him know we’re watching,” Riscica said. “But any further effort on that is not going to get us paid on anything, including the cost to cut the lawn.”
The problem, Riscica said, is that if the village does not maintain the property, nobody will.
“Perhaps, maybe it will change,” he said. “Somebody cut the lawn and it wasn’t us… trust me, I live right there. The neighbors are not cutting that lawn. They are calling me.”
Deliberation on the house moves in strange ways, Riscica said. Neighbors saw a white van in front of the house recently, hearing rumblings around the home.
“The broker who had the buyer that was going to get the house… barely wants to talk about it,” Riscica said.
According to Zillow, the home at 99 Bourndale Road North, a three bedroom, three bathroom home, currently has a “pending offer.” It’s valued at approximately $1.4 million. The home first sold in 2000 at $634,000 and was sold again in the summer of 2006 for approximately $1.2 million. It was listed for sale in the July of 2019 for approximately $1.4 million and since then has gone back and forth until the beginning of this year between “pending sale” and “listed for sale.”
“I think this is a case where we’re just going to have to suck it up and do what we have to do,” Riscica said.