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A Tangled Tale of Two Brothers

Thu, 02/09/2023 - 10:32

Police say recent dispute at Kenny’s Tipperary is the latest of many

Kenny’s Tipperary Inn in Montauk was the scene last month of the arrest, on numerous criminal charges, of two brothers, Mehrdad and Mehrzad Yaghoubi of Harrison Avenue in Springs, in a case that has since raised questions about the brothers’ past business practices.

According to a record of the Jan. 8 arrest, East Hampton Town police were summoned to the West Lake Drive inn following a dispute between the brothers and the Kenny family. Edward Kenny, one of the family members who together own Kenny’s Tipperary Inn, had returned with his sister from an upstate funeral that day to find himself locked out of his apartment above the restaurant. 

Mr. Kenny told police that Mehrdad Yaghoubi, 59, who had been operating the kitchen and bar concession under the name of SLR Montauk L.L.C. since January 2021, had removed Mr. Kenny’s and his sister’s belongings from the apartment and moved in during their absence.

Mehrdad Yaghoubi countered that he had a lease for the apartment, but the police report noted that “due to the department’s history of multiple calls for service at the location, officers knew that Kenny was living in the apartment for years, and informed Mehrdad Yaghoubi that “regardless of what his supposed lease says, he cannot remove the current tenant, nor bar them from entry.”

Last year, in one of those “calls for service,” a dispute between the Kenny family and Mehrdad Yaghoubi led to the arrest of two Kenny family members, both in their 70s.

Police then told Mehrdad Yaghoubi that he had to gather his belongings and leave the premises. The incident escalated from there as an increasingly agitated Mr. Yaghoubi, who also goes by Mario Yagobi, continued to claim that he had a lease “while refusing officers’ commands to gather his belongings and exit the residence.”

After repeated attempts to get him to comply voluntarily, police began to escort him out, at which time he began to “actively resist the officers.” His younger brother, Mehrzad, 56, who had been below, then “began running up the stairs in an aggressive manner with his cell phone outreached,” tried to put himself between police and his fleeing brother, and then “actively resisted” Officer Patrick Royal before officers were able to place him in handcuffs.

They sat him on a couch while they pursed Mehrdad Yaghoubi, who by then had barricaded himself in a walk-in closet. As police worked to extricate Mehrdad, his handcuffed brother allegedly burst into the room and struck Officer Royal with his knee.

The pair were finally detained. Mehrdad Yaghoubi now faces three misdemeanor charges — criminal mischief, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest — plus a single felony count of second-degree burglary relating to the disposition of Mr. Kenny’s and his sister’s personal belongings. His brother, Mehrzad, is also charged with three misdemeanors, according to the arrest report.

A review of criminal and civil court records spanning more than 20 years provides some insight into the Yaghoubi brothers’ business history. Both men have been defendants (and occasional plaintiffs) in civil cases involving restaurant supply purveyors, banks, credit card companies, the New York City Housing Authority, boxing promoters, and others. Court filings going back to the early 2000s show that they have operated under various aliases over that time; among them “Mario Yaghoubi” and “Mario Yagobi” for Mehrdad Yaghoubi, and “Anthony” for his brother (“Anthony” is listed as an alias for Mehrzad in the Jan. 7 arrest report).

Mehrdad Yaghoubi, or Mario Yagobi, has been a defendant in numerous civil complaints, and was named in court papers associated with an arbitrated settlement of $100,000 in 2017 against “Anthony Yaghoubi” that involved a former partner at a Manhattan bar called Lovecraft Johnnie’s and a Yaghoubi-owned company called Shadow Sunrise L.L.C.

In July 2016, a Nassau County District Court arbitrator confirmed an unspecified judgment against “Mario Yagobi” that was brought by a Nassau County building-alarm company. In a real estate commissions-related suit from 2002, Salta v. Yagobi, Mehrdad Yaghoubi was ordered to pay the plaintiffs $283,000. 

Court records also show two active civil suits involving Mehrzad Yaghoubi as a defendant, including a 2018 action brought by a company called Manhattan Beer Distributors in Queens County Civil Court. In that suit he is identified as Mehrzad Yaghobi, as well as by “Anthony Yaghoubi” and “Anthony Yagobi.” 

Mehrzad is also named in a pending civil action seeking back payment of nearly $17,000 in unpaid rent at the Harborside Motel in Montauk, allegedly accrued in 2021.

For his part, Mehrdad Yaghoubi has a recent criminal conviction history that ends right about where his reported arrival in Montauk begins. In May 2016, Mehrdad began serving a one to three-year prison term at the Odgensburg Correctional Facility in St. Lawrence County, N.Y., following a conviction for grand larceny, a class C felony. The elder Yaghoubi served about a year of his sentence before being paroled in 2017.

That same year, according to a deed recorded in The Star, a person identified only as “M. Yaghoubi” of 50 Harrison Avenue was involved in a foreclosure proceeding with Wells Fargo Bank that saw the property transfer from “M. Yaghoubi’s” ownership to the bank’s. Both Yaghoubi brothers provided 50 Harrison Avenue to East Hampton police as their home address.

By early 2018, Mehrdad Yaghoubi had been discharged from his parole period, and was scouting out business opportunities that year in Montauk, and eventually arrived at Kenny’s Tipperary, which had lost a previous tenant running the kitchen and bar after a short stint. Mr. Mehrdad, by now a convicted felon, obtained a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority, in October 2020.

That license, which was renewed in September 2022 for two years, identifies Kenny’s Castaways as the D.B.A. (doing business as) entity at the West Lake institution, which has been owned and operated by the Kenny family since the early 1960s. (Kenny’s Castaways was a legendary Bleecker Street music club that closed in 2012.) A 2020 filing with the Better Business Bureau identifies “Mario Yagobi” as the “owner” of Kenny’s Castaways and SRL Montauk, L.L.C. 

In May, 2021 Merhzad Yaghoubi set out to secure room rentals for various stretches through the high season at the Harborside Resort Motel, located just down West Lake Drive from Kenny’s Tipperary. The agreement would pay the owner, Merle McDonald-Aaron, nearly $20,000. The rooms were rented to a “Mario Yagobi,” according to a hotel invoice that further indentifies Mr. Yagobi’s billing address as Kenny’s Castaways. 

After providing a $3,000 deposit for room rentals from late May through the end of August, “Mario Yagobi” allegedly left the Harborside in September 2021 in the middle of the night, leaving behind an unpaid $16,998 bill.

Ms. McDonald-Aaron filed a civil complaint against Mehrzad Yaghoubi in 2022. The next court date is Tuesday, at the Arthur Cromarty Criminal Court Complex in Riverside, before the Hon. David Morris.

As for last month’s incident in Montauk, the Yaghoubi brothers are due back in East Hampton Town Justice Court next Thursday. Mehrdad Yaghoubi is represented by James Vlahadamis, a Hampton Bays attorney who did not respond to email or phone requests for comment. Mehrzad Yaghoubi is being represented by Legal Aid.

The Amagansett attorney Tina Piette, who is defending the Kenny family members involved in last year’s dispute with Mehrdad Yaghoubi, said she had seen the video of the Jan. 8 arrest but couldn’t speak to any issues raised since.

“On behalf of the property owners of the Tipperary Inn, I don’t think it would be prudent for me to comment on ongoing criminal investigations into the Yaghoubi brothers, or ‘SRL Montauk L.L.C., d/b/a Kenny’s Castaway,’ although I have seen the videotape of them illegally entering the Kennys’ family apartment above the restaurant,” she said by email. “The brazenness is shocking to me.”

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