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BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL | On Thurs., Jan. 26, Robert Caballero, 53, was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on charges of grand larceny, forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument and falsifying business records.
Caballero, a property manager for a Housing Development Fund Corporation, low-income co-op building at 172 Forsyth St. on the Lower East Side, is accused of forging checks to steal more than $260,000 from the co-op. Sitting passively during the brief proceeding, he pleaded not guilty.
Between January 2007 and July 2010, Caballero allegedly forged more than 150 checks from the building’s bank account. He had access to the accounts because he was responsible for collecting rent from tenants and depositing the proceeds to pay for the co-op’s bills and maintenance costs.
Caballero was to be paid $450 a month for those services; instead he forged checks in that amount on a weekly basis.
“Government programs are not piggy banks,”Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., said after the arraignment. Vance said Caballero stole “from members of a program that was intended to help low-income New Yorkers achieve the dream of home ownership.”
Caballero is due back in court March 12. He reportedly faces up to 15 years in prison.
A former Lower East Side Democratic district leader in the 1990s, Caballero a few years ago tried to run for the office again but was caught living outside the district — though his voter registration falsely claimed he still resided within it. He had to withdraw from the race.