Yury Baumblit crammed people into grimy flophouses that worked much like sober homes. Addicts in rehab, mentally ill men and homeless drifters sought hope and safety. Baumblit inflicted misery. His homes often were vermin-infested firetraps in Brooklyn, N.Y. Baumblit forced desperate residents back into booze and drugs so they’d keep needing drug treatment.

Corrupt rehab firms then churned more inflated Medicaid bills for bogus drug testing and treatment. Many residents were bullied to get rehab — even if they weren’t addicts. Baumblit housed downtrodden people nobody else wanted. They needed the shelter to avoid dangerous homeless shelters and drug-infested streets. He imposed a sinister catch to stay in his homes: Attend drug treatment programs he chose — or be kicked back onto the streets.

Tough choice: Relapse or get evicted

Horace Bush moved into a flophouse to stay sober. He finished his rehab program. Baumblit gave him a choice: If he wanted to stay, he must deliberately relapse and keep getting illicit rehab. Bush says he went back onto beer with a chaser of heroin and crack cocaine, reveals a New York Times investigation. Residents suffered in Baumblit’s rundown “three-quarter homes.” They’re unregulated homes in a grey area between halfway houses and permanent housing.

Tiny rooms were jammed with bunk beds, and tenants often slept on grimy mattresses. Exits were blocked, and fire escapes were missing. Mold soiled some homes.

Evicted, tossed onto streets

Baumblit evicted tenants illegally if they resisted rehab, broke rules or were just inconvenient. Just toss their belongings on the street, steal their mattresses, or break their stoves so they couldn’t cook. One man was recovering from surgery. He collapsed in the street. Baumblit wouldn’t let him back inside. Baumblit forced a recovering crack addict to sleep on the hardwood floor for months, and removed the couches as punishment.

Another tenant came home. He found his belongings thrown onto the street, and someone else in his bed. Baumblit threatened to evict others for changing the thermostat, using gas burners for heat or not doing chores. Baumblit and his wife Rimma lived the good life with Medicaid bribe money pouring in. They owned a $3.5-million house and Mercedes. Rimma had 200 designer handbags, 21 fur coats, plus jewelry and watches.

Baumblit was handed up to five years in state prison. He “preyed on vulnerable people who desperately needed a home. He did that to line his own pockets, and deserves to be in prison for his fraudulent and cruel actions,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.


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