A former Disney CFO says a couple used a legal loophole to squat in his $2.2 million Connecticut mansion — but the couple claims the castle was far from the fairytale promised.
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Lawrence Rutkowski — who also steered the finances of Petco and NBC/General Electric — says he rented his nearly 8,000-square-foot Greenwich home to lawyer A. Mark Getachew and his wife, Denora.
But the couple hasn’t paid rent since they moved in in June, taking “advantage of the no-eviction moratorium,” according to an affidavit filed by Rutkowski in Norwalk Housing Court.
“It is clear that they have no intention of paying rent — now or in the future because they know Governor [Ned] Lamont keeps extending the ‘no-eviction’ moratorium,” Rutkowski alleges in the affidavit.
Rutkowski, a California resident, says what’s worse is that “without my consent, the Getachews have performed multiple alterations and have caused significant damage to my house and have run up huge bills in my name (all in violation of the lease),” the affidavit continues.
Rutkowski’s pool repairman found when he opened the pool for the Getachews that there were some leaking valves and a few other minor repairs that would cost at most $3,000 to repair. But Mark “unjustly fired” the pool repairman, hired his own and “proceeded to run up a $45,000 bill, basically digging up all of the piping around the pool and associated parts of the pool and replacing them,” the affidavit says.
This was all done without Rutkowski’s permission, he claimed, adding that the situation “has become a nightmare for me.”
Denora and Mark — a lawyer at Willkie Farr & Gallagher — “are the singularly least professional, least honest …, least moral people I have dealt with in my 40 plus years of professional life,” the affidavit alleges.
After problems began with the Getachews in the first month, Rutkowski even offered to release them from the lease.
“The Getachews are the worst type of tenants one can imagine,” the affidavit from last week says.
“While they appear to be professional, they are similar to the type of rich entitled people who have taken over houses in the Hamptons, supposedly to escape the COVID epidemic, and have taken advantage of the no-eviction moratorium in New York enacted by Governor Cuomo and now here, the moratorium in Connecticut enacted by Governor Lamont,” the court papers say.
Meanwhile, the Getachews initiated the housing court case in August, claiming they only agreed to rent the $11,000-per-month home with the understanding that there was a working pool, hot tub, waterfall feature and other luxury amenities that could carry them and their children through the summer as they fled their city home during the pandemic.
But the Getachews claim that Rutkowski lied when he said the pool, hot tub and waterfall “were in good working condition,” with their complaint alleging that Rutkowski knew there were problems with the pool before signing the lease.
The Getachews say the pool, air conditioning system and other aspects of the house were plagued with problems that forced them to shell out their own money for repairs in just their first three months there.
“In total, tenants have incurred no less than $46,356.22 to repair and replace broken items in and on the premises … that are landlord’s responsibility to address,” the Getachews’ complaint alleges.
They say Rutkowski told them to deduct the repair costs from rent — but then backpedaled as the repairs “ultimately eclipsed the amount of rent due,” the court papers claim.
They claim they haven’t been reimbursed for the repairs yet, which is why they haven’t been paying rent.
Rutkowski’s lawyer Eric Grayson told The Post, “we will be filing a serious counterclaim shortly and moving for an eviction once the moratorium is lifted.”
Getachew lawyer Alison Baker declined to comment.