Bill Morris in Building Operations on June 30, 2022
Co-op and condo boards are used to dealing with difficult residents. But few boards are confronted with the challenge facing the board at the Amherst, a 250-unit co-op in Jamaica, Queens: the court-ordered homecoming of a shareholder who’s awaiting trial in a brutal murder.
Glenn Hirsch, 51, a shareholder at the Amherst, has been released on a $500,000 cash bail after being charged with gunning down Chinese food delivery driver Zhiwen Yan in April. The motive? Hirsch was allegedly displeased that he was shorted on duck sauce in an order from Great Wall, the restaurant that employed Yan, a father of three. The tabloids have, predictably, dubbed Hirsch “the Duck Sauce Killer.”
Despite protests from the Queens district attorney and the co-op’s lawyer, Abbey Goldstein, a partner at Goldstein Greenlaw, Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder released Hirsch from custody on Monday after his brother posted bail. The judge reminded Hirsch that he must adhere to strict guidelines or face a return to jail until he stands trial.
The co-op board took immediate steps to protect residents from an unwelcome neighbor who could wind up living in the building for a year or more while awaiting trial.
“People are very upset in this building, they’re frightened,” Goldstein says, adding that he edited a letter prepared by the co-op’s property manager, Aras Properties, that was distributed to all shareholders. It read in part: “The district attorney has advised us that the conditions of his bail are extremely strict in that Mr. Hirsch must wear an ankle bracelet and may not leave his apartment without the permission of the Sheriff’s office and only then to visit his doctor or attorney.”
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Goldstein says the board also installed additional security cameras to keep track of Hirsch’s comings and goings, and a building staff member will stand guard in the lobby to keep the press and non-residents from entering the complex. The board’s letter adds: “We request that residents assist by not allowing access to anyone they do not recognize.”
The heightened security is understandable. The Great Wall’s owner told The New York Post that Hirsch had repeatedly harassed him and his workers, claiming the accused killer vandalized his car and showed up at the eatery with a gun in January.
“The co-op board has been very proactive, reaching out to the police and the district attorney’s office,” Goldstein says. “We registered our strong objections to Hirsch being allowed to return to the co-op.”
Those objections failed to resonate, which has left Goldstein, the board and shareholders fuming. “They have in their midst a man who’s been charged with intentional murder,” Goldstein says. “This is a mentally unhinged man. How do you put him in a building with hundreds of residents, including children?”
One answer came from the office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who unsuccessfully asked the court to keep Hirsch behind bars without bail. “Bail is not and never was meant to be punitive,” Katz’s office said in a statement. “Rather, its purpose is to ensure the accused returns to court to answer the charges. The law gives the judge the discretion to set bail in an amount the judge believes is reasonably calculated to accomplish this purpose.”
A high-ranking police official told the Post that cops searching Hirsch’s apartment after his arrest discovered that his refrigerator was full of condiments — including packets of duck sauce. “When they were doing their search of the place for the weapons, they looked in the refrigerator, and there were all of these condiments,” the official said. “It was not just duck sauce. It was condiments, duck sauce, ketchup. It was weird. He’s a hoarder.”
A hoarder, a co-op shareholder, an unwelcome neighbor — a man wearing an ankle bracelet while awaiting his day in court on serious criminal charges.
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