New York

I-Team: Senate Candidate in Harlem ‘Kool Aid' Firestorm Faces New Rental Scam Allegations

Nearly a dozen alleged victims recounted their stories to the I-Team, with some saying Jon Girodes brought them to tears

What to Know

  • Jon Girodes allegedly stiffed renters out of deposit money for a midtown apartment and then left them with no place to live
  • His attorney has not responded to multiple requests for comment
  • Nearly a dozen alleged victims recounted their stories to the I-Team, with some saying Girodes brought them to tears

A New York State Senate candidate who sparked a firestorm after telling the I-Team he was planning to hand out "Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons" at a campaign event in Harlem faces new accusations over an alleged rental scam.

On Wednesday, a Manhattan grand jury indicted 38-year-old Jon Girodes, the Republican candidate for New York’s 30th District in the November election, on grand larceny charges in connection with a suspected scheme where he allegedly stiffed renters out of deposit money for a midtown apartment and then left them with no place to live.

Girodes remained in jail, unable to post the $75,000 bond. His attorney has not responded to repeated requests for comment. 

The I-Team spoke with nearly a dozen people who responded to a Craigslist ad, discovering later that Girodes rented them the same apartment, at the same time. They said he made excuses why they couldn’t move in, leaving them homeless. 

"I was literally on 42nd Street, in tears, crying, because I had no idea what to do. Nowhere to go," said Amanda Stevens. 

McKinley Thomas said Girodes made up an excuse about a family emergency. “He told me that his sister died in the apartment, and so I couldn’t move in. I ended up taking all my things. He gave me $200 and told me to leave the property or I was trespassing.” 

Nina Wolff told the I-Team, “I didn’t have a home. My son went to university (college) with a homeless mother. The psychological damage was very deep.” 

All of the alleged victims said Girodes claimed he owned the 26th floor condominium with the sprawling views of the Hudson. Sources connected to the building management told the I-Team Girodes does not own the apartment and rented it from an individual owner.They added he had not paid rent for several months. 

Alleged victims said he bragged about his political ties, and showed them a large photograph of him in front of the Apollo Theater placed in the front hall of the apartment. 

Said Stevens, a professional photographer, “He told me he’d want to work with me and that if I photographed his campaign, he’d lower the rent about $300 for me.”

Another alleged victim who is disabled and on worker’s compensation, lost $15,000 in the alleged scam. The man, who asked not to be identified, said he put down advance rent for several months along with a move-in deposit. When he pressed to get his money back, he claimed Girodes threatened him during phone calls. 

In one taped conversation, Girodes is heard saying, “I’m gonna rape you. I wanted to do a transaction but you started stalking me.”

The candidate continued: “When my workers hound me, I get like, ‘I’ll fire them or beat the s--- out of them, spend 10 days in Rikers. I can’t do that to you because I am running for office.'” 

Attorney Pierre Gooding, who represents more than a dozen alleged victims pro bono, said many have been threatened and worried about coming forward. Gooding said he has received additional complaints about Girodes from out-of-state residents. 

Noemie Quere, a graduate student from France, said, “I look at him like a psychopath.” 

The disabled man who lost $15,000 said he came forward to make sure Girodes doesn’t hurt other people.

“He won’t stop unless people are aware of this,” he said. 

Girodes’ campaign website and social media pages were taken down after the I-Team started its investigation. It's not clear if he plans on staying in the race. He has repeatedly claimed he's the victim of a conspiracy. He also stated he was the victim of a rental scam but did not offer details. 

The I-Team was first flagged about a rental dispute involving Girodes in mid-September. In an email response, he added this P.S.: "I’m hosting an event in Harlem which will be in front of the state building in a few weeks. We will (donate) Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons to the public on 125th Street in Harlem.” 

Girodes, who failed to show up for scheduled on-camera interviews, defended his remarks in a phone conversation to the I-Team. Harlem residents expressed outrage, calling the comments racist and stereotypical. 

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