EXCLUSIVE: Alleged NYC squatter 'in bed' with 'victim' family as part of real estate deal, lawyer reveals

EXCLUSIVE — The lawyer for alleged squatter Brett Flores has tried to reclaim the narrative about his client, telling Fox News Digital that Flores was part of a deal to help the Landa family severely undercut the price on their New York City dream home.

“The Landas were buying the property from the estate of Bernie Fernandez,” Dennis O’Sullivan, the lawyer representing Flores in the civil court case, told Fox News Digital. “The Landas were in bed with Brett, and they asked Brett to remain on the property so that the estate selling the property would have to offer a discount to anybody buying.”

“After getting an incredible discount, they turned on Brett and said we’re not giving you any money, and they picked up where the estate was in the middle of evicting Brett,” he added.

O’Sullivan said the Landa family agreed to pay Flores $140,000 if he could stay in the home and help drag the price down for them. The home was originally listed for $2.69 million but closed at $2 million on Oct. 13, 2023, according to real estate site Redfin.

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The Landa Family bought the waterfront home with the intention that their sons live there and help take care of their brother who has Down syndrome, especially once their parents die, according to ABC 7.

Flores lived and worked in the home caring for Bernard Fernandez, 80, until Fernandez died on Jan. 12, 2023. Flores refused to leave, alleging Fernandez gave him permission to remain, according to Anthony Mordente, the lawyer for the Landa family.

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This view shows the home of Joseph and Susana Landa in Douglaston, New York City, on Feb. 29, 2024. Brett Flores allegedly has been squatting in the house since the previous owner’s death in January 2023. (Probe-Media for Fox News Digital)

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This view shows the home of Joseph and Susana Landa in Douglaston, New York City, on Feb. 29, 2024. Brett Flores allegedly has been squatting in the house since the previous owner’s death in January 2023. (Probe-Media for Fox News Digital)

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A solar-powered security camera is seen mounted on the roof of Joseph and Susana Landa’s home in Douglaston, New York City, on Feb. 29, 2024. (Probe-Media for Fox News Digital)

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A solar-powered security camera is seen mounted on the roof of Joseph and Susana Landa’s home in Douglaston, New York City, on Feb. 29, 2024. (Probe-Media for Fox News Digital)

O’Sullivan revealed that he had an hour-long video of a conversation between the Landa family and Flores explicitly discussing the deal and congratulating him on “delivering the property for such a low amount.”

Fox News Digital has not heard the recording and so could not verify the content of the conversation. When asked why the recording had not surfaced sooner, O’Sullivan said it had been held back as part of “strategic decisions,” likely to be heard in subsequent court appearances – the next of which is scheduled for April.

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“The first conversation, he was at [Joseph Landa’s] headquarters in Astoria, Queens, where the guy is decorator. … Brett was in his company for an hour – after January, obviously, after Bernie passed away – he got a tour of the guy’s business, and they discussed this concept of where Brett sits tight, and then the Landas negotiate this incredible discount,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan said that this information initially came out in court last week during a hearing for a harassment case between Flores and the Landa family, with the lawyer representing Flores in that case blurting out the information in a moment of frustration.

Joseph and Susana Landa spoke with Fox News Digital via Zoom after news broke about their struggle to evict Brett Flores. (Fox News Digital)

When asked to respond to the fresh allegations, Daniel Landa, who has liaised with the news media on behalf of his family to arrange interviews and respond to questions, told Fox News Digital, “Hopefully, all of this will be settled at our next court date.”

When pursued for a follow-up as to which, if any, of the allegations they wished to refute, Daniel Landa replied, “We are in litigation.”

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The Landa family previously told Fox News Digital that they took over the home with the understanding they would also have to take over the legal proceedings to evict Flores. Fernandez left his estate to his nephew, and he went to court several times with no final remedy for the issue and eventually put the home up for sale on July 24, 2023.

The final closing price for the home is also listed as $2 million on Zillow. The realtors involved in the sale of the home did not respond to a Fox News Digital inquiry about the property.

Brett Flores speaks on the phone at Queens Criminal Court in New York City on March 18, 2024. (Probe-Media for Fox News Digital)

O’Sullivan does not dispute those facts of the case, but he has revealed that the new twist in the story – which he repeatedly promised would “turn the narrative on its head” – is that the Landa family used Flores to undercut the price and reneged on a $140,000 payment for his efforts, initially claiming he didn’t get the house down to $2 million and trying to push him to take less than originally agreed.

The Landa family previously told Fox News Digital that they had offered to pay Flores the money, going to court with checkbook in hand – which O’Sullivan confirmed – but that Flores refused to accept the money.

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O’Sullivan said that by the time the family had caved and tried to pay the money, the situation had taken on a “defamation element” that exceeded the original fee, describing how even representing Flores has brought him personal trouble and that “people look at me differently.”

“They said a lot of bad things about him, broadcast throughout the United States, broadcast in England … even [former HUD Secretary] Ben Carson was discussing the case on TV,” O’Sullivan said.

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He also revealed that the Landa family may own at least three homes other than the one in question and all in the same Douglaston neighborhood in Queens, having moved to another home in the neighborhood after handing over their previous home to their son.

O’Sullivan is still mulling if and when to allow his client to speak with the media directly. When Fox News Digital caught up with Flores after the dismissal of an assault charge brought against him, he did not make any comment or even respond to questions.

Flores filed for bankruptcy in January, but as he does not own the house, it does not factor into his estate and he can continue to live there while the stay of action remains in place.

“We’re in the process of having the automatic bankruptcy stay lifted so that we can go back to court and proceed with a trial,” Anthony Mordente, the lawyer for the Landa family, told Fox News Digital this month. “I think we’ll be successful. I don’t have any reason why the bankruptcy judge would have any reason to keep the stay in effect.”

Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news. 

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