What to Know
The property manager of a Queens building being probed by the city over hateful posters in the lobby has been arrested
Posters lining the walls of the Sunnyside condo pay homage to the Confederate Army and to World War II dictators
NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer led a rally at the building last month and de Blasio denounced the posters
The Queens property manager whose lobby posters of Nazis and Confederates scared residents and sparked an investigation by the city last month has been arrested.
Neal Milano, 70, was arrested Sunday afternoon and charged with stalking and harassing a woman, according to police. He was arraigned and ordered to return to court on Friday.
Law enforcement sources say that on July 13 a woman told police Milano followed her on numerous occasions and that he grabbed and pulled her.
The arrest is not related to the city’s probe into the posters in the building, the sources said, adding that Milano has been out of the country up until recently.
Rally Held Against Racist NYC Apartment Lobby
Some residents of the building were relieved to hear of the arrest. They say the posters and his erratic behavior frightens them. The tenants said Milano has threatened them with eviction and fines, and that he walks around screaming at people and muttering racial epithets. They also said he has boasted about a dozen guns he claimed to have in his apartment.
"It's good for the people in this building that Neal Milano was arrested as soon as he got off the plane," New York City Council Major Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said.
Van Bramer is among the community leaders who have tried to help the terrified residents.
Tenants Angered by Confederate Flags, Nazi Signs in Lobby
"They are now afraid for their lives when he comes back to their building," Van Bramer said, adding that he believes the NYPD removed the guns from his apartment.
"There are several outstanding harassment complaints against this man. There are numerous other complaints with regard to violations of civil rights," Van Bramer said.
In August, New York City's Commission on Human Rights launched an investigation into allegations of tenant harassment at the condo building Milano manages on 39th Place in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Sunnyside.
Posters paying homage to the Confederate Army and to World War II dictators like Mussolini and Hitler line the walls of the lobby and stairwell of the building, as do posters in support of the National Rifle Association and President Trump.
Many residents in the building are immigrants. Last month, residents spoke to News 4 anonymously, terrified of retribution. They say the display of posters and propaganda started small and grew to the entire lobby. The building directory lists infamous Nazis Rudolf Hess and Josef Mengele as residents.
"I actually cried when I saw the Trump mural because it says 'build the wall' on it, and this building is full of people from all over different places, and that statement is loaded with hatred," one neighbor said.
It's illegal in New York City for housing providers, landlords or their employees or agents to discriminate against tenants by creating a hostile environment based on race, religion, immigration status, orientation or any other protected class. It's also against the law to harass tenants based on those classes.
“It is now more important than ever for New Yorkers to stand united as one city and reject discrimination and intolerance,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “We will not let tenants in Sunnyside or across the five boroughs be intimidated or threatened for speaking out against hatred.”
Van Bramer, a Democrat, led a rally at the building last month, saying Milano has created a "house of horrors" for tenants there. Local lawmakers and leaders from the Anti-Defamation League of New York, the Sunnyside Jewish Center and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York were by his side.
It's unclear how Milano became building manager, although he does own at least one apartment in the building and has been reelected to the condo board. His attorney wasn't immediately reachable Sunday for comment on the charges.
Milano did not respond to NBC 4 New York's requests for comment on the initial story last month. Messages left with the board of managers were also not returned.