Thursday, December 1 2022

The owner of the Ebo Hill mansion in Smithtown tried to illegally rent part of the property last summer and is due in court later this month to answer three city code violation charges, according to the summonses and the city attorney.

In the charging documents, city Public Safety Department investigators say landlord Richard Albano used Airbnb to advertise the illegal rental of a three-bedroom apartment in the Edgewood Avenue mansion on July 18 . Albano also allegedly violated city code by not registering the property with the municipality. rental registration program and failing to obtain a certificate of existing use for the apartment.

Albano pleaded not guilty to the charges during an August 2 appearance in Suffolk Fourth District Court in Hauppauge and is scheduled to appear Nov. 29 before Judge C. Stephen Hackeling.

Albano said he occasionally rented the apartment to pay his $64,000 property tax bill.

Albano’s attorney, Vincent Trimarco Sr., said the apartment had had “a separate entrance, with separate doors” since the 1850s and he would seek a certificate of existing use from the city.

Ebo Hill is located in a residential neighborhood where most commercial and accessory uses are not permitted by city zoning. Zoning violations are subject to fines of up to $5,000.

“I believe [the case] started with a complaint,” City Attorney Matthew Jakubowski said. When asked if Albano had complied with city code since the violations occurred, Jakubowski said, “If [the ad] is still standing, so no.

An Airbnb listing was still up Saturday, advertising a three-bedroom apartment for $219 per night.

Albano registered a website last February announcing the availability of the 42-room, 15-bedroom house for entertaining. He invited newlyweds to take wedding photos for free on the grounds and advertised pool parties for $225 an hour, ballroom rentals for $250 an hour and renting a speakeasy for $300 an hour with an hourly supplement of $40 for a bartender.

Albano said these services were mistakenly added by someone he paid to create the website. They were removed after a Newsday investigation, and Albano said the speakeasy was used primarily for storage.

A spokesperson for the State Liquor Authority said the agency had no record of a permit or permit application at Ebo Hill, and that selling alcohol or using a bartender to dispense the drinking someone else’s without a license would likely violate state law.

When Richard Albano bought the Ebo Hill mansion in 2018 for $600,000, it had fallen into decline and hadn’t been lived in for decades.
Credit: Richard Albano

The original Ebo Hill, built in the 1840s, was home to generations of the namesake Smithtown family, including Ethelbert Smith, who worked in the tea trade in China, and her son Richard Lawrence Smith, prominent in yachting circles and horses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When Albano bought the mansion in 2018 for $600,000, it had fallen into decline and hadn’t been lived in for decades. Albano, who owned pizzerias and knocked down houses, became a local celebrity while renovating the house, documenting finds like a walk-in pantry once cooled by water pumped from the Nissequogue River. But a fire in March of that year — possibly started by an ember from the fireplace, Albano said — destroyed the house just weeks after work began. Albano reconstructed using photographs and floor plans.

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