New York Post
You better hookah out for this fellow
Ex-pol arrested for menacing biz: cops
A former city councilman tried to strong-arm tenants who run a hookah lounge in a Brooklyn building he owns — and now he’s facing charges, cops said Sunday.
Kendall Stewart, 68, allegedly broke down a door at the East Flatbush business on Nostrand Avenue at around 11:45 a.m. Friday and threatened a 40-year-old man in a dispute over money, cops said.
“I’m gonna come back here and take care of you,” the former Brooklyn councilmember allegedly said.
Sure enough, Stewart returned the next day at around 6 p.m. with three men and threatened a 24year-old woman working at the lounge, cops said.
One of the men with Stewart pulled a gun, authorities said.
Stewart was arraigned Sunday night on charges of criminal mischief. He was released on his own recognizance with an order of protection barring him from approaching three workers at the lounge.
The men who allegedly backed him up remain at large, and cops couldn’t immediately provide a detailed description of them.
Police sources said the dispute was over city fines. The groundfloor business, 1744 Lounge, was slapped with $2,060 in penalties for operating without a valid permit and failure to provide an unobstructed exit in June 2016, according to city records. The business was previously called Cafe Omar.
When building inspectors returned the next month, the lounge still wasn’t in compliance, records show. That violation came with $5,039 in fines.
But all outstanding fines were paid, and the business was in compliance in June 2017, the records show.
Area residents said they believe Stewart abruptly changed the building’s locks on his tenants amid the dispute.
Stewart, a Democrat, served on the City Council from 2002 to 2009, when he represented the 45th District, which covers Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Midwood and Canarsie.
He was voted out of office months after his former chief of staff and aide admitted to embezzling $200,000 of taxpayer money.
Stewart and his attorney, Migir Ilganayev, declined to speak to reporters after his arraignment. But during the hearing Ilganayev said, “These are just allegations. My client argues that he’s innocent.”
Both the hookah lounge and a karaoke business it shares space with were closed Sunday evening, a shiny new padlock on the front door.
One local resident who declined to give his name said he saw two women he believed to be relatives of Stewart locking the joint up at around 2:45 p.m.
The resident said that he was getting his hair cut across the street from the lounge Saturday when he saw the ex-pol getting hauled off by cops.
“They handcuffed him, they put him in the police car, and they went away with him,” he said. “No one is above the law, not because he’s a [former] councilman or whatever. He cannot do that.”