Radio personality DJ Envy responds to the I-Team investigation into his one-time business partner, Cesar Pina. WNBC- NY Investigator Reporter Sarah Wallace reports.
Popular radio host DJ Envy is under scrutiny for promoting a real estate venture of a friend that some investors now say was a scheme.
On his syndicated iHeartRadio show “The Breakfast Club,” Envy has often promoted the real estate venture of his pal, Cesar Pina. But it’s more than just a passing endorsement.
“We’ve helped so many people, not just regular people, but celebrities, athletes, executives,” DJ Envy said on his radio show.
Envy and Cesar teamed up for seminars, including one at the convention center pitching opportunities to flip properties, often in distressed areas of New Jersey.
Jose Santiago and his wife, Jessica Ortiz, say they believed investing in a real estate venture in a Paterson neighborhood would be their ticket to the American dream.
“That’s the reason I got into real estate, so we can actually start flipping properties, buying properties so we can have something for our kids in the future,” Ortiz told News 4.
The couple says they connected with entrepreneur Cesar after seeing him on social media with DJ Envy.
“He’s advertising this all over radio and television, so I thought this was legit,” Santiago said. “We invested $200,000 and it looks like we won’t ever get it back.”
The pitch: to invest in run down properties that would be renovated and flipped for money. The promised return: up to 30% of the profits. In some cases, Cesar didn’t even own the properties, including the one Santiago and Ortiz took $200,000 in equity from their Florida home to finance the project. They said they were told profits would come within four months, but they never saw a dime.
“I am paying the interest right now every month, and I have nothing,” Santiago said.
Nigel Chamblin claims he was conned by Cesar into investing $235,000 into that same Paterson property, along with homes in Hawthorne and Maplewood that each required $300,000.
”There were other people investing in these exact same properties,” Chamblin told News 4. ”It was a scam, it was a lie.”
Augie Rios owns a custom auto wrap shop in Lodi and says he worked on Envy’s cars for years, and believed his pitch. He did get back a return on an initial investment with Cesar but maintains a second investment on a Paterson property went south.
“I wouldn’t have invested in Cesar if it wasn’t for Envy,” Rios said. “I lost a total of $64,000.”
After receiving two bounded checks, Rios said he got a visit from Cesar carrying a box of jewelry.
“He says take this jewelry until I can pay you back,” said Rios, who estimates the box held $15,000-$20,000 worth of goods.
Then there’s record producer Anthony Martini, who invested in what he thought was a promising apartment project.
“I lost a million dollars,” he said. Martini said he invested because of Envy, someone he’d known for years. His attorney has filed a lawsuit.
The complaint floodgates opened up when alleged victims started appearing on the social media platform of influencer TonytheCloser, a self-proclaimed real estate scam watchdog.
Dozens of lawsuits have now been filed against Cesar and his wife, several also name Envy, who has sued TonytheCloser for defamation after also going on with him live.
“I didn’t take a dime from anyone,” Envy said on a stream with Tony.
Envy, whose real name is Rasshaun Casey, declined to talk to the I-Team, instead referring us to a powerful Manhattan real estate attorney. That attorney said the radio personality lost half a million dollars to the Pinas in an investment deal to transform a vacant school building in Paterson into rental units.
“[Envy] is a victim, just like the other alleged victims are in connection with the scam,” Massimo D’Angelo, Envy’s attorney, said. “He is contending daily with cases that are being filed improperly against him.”
Questioned why the DJ does not use his radio show to warn others victims, his attorney cites “ongoing litigation.” The attorney is seeking dismissals of all lawsuits.
However, on Thursday, DJ Envy and The Breakfast Club posted on Instagram a video of DJ Envy responding to the allegations that he was involved in the scams.
“Let me explain some things,” he said to his The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God. “My attorneys don’t want me to speak but I think there’s things that I need to clear up a little bit.
“Cesar and myself did seminars. Now the reasons why I did this seminars is because i wanted to uplift my community. I wanted to teach my community about real estate, things that I didn’t know when I was first buying my first home. I wanted to teach our community about investing and in generational wealth,” DJ Envy went on to say. “So I did these seminars and brought industry professionals to all these seminars…that’s what I wanted to do for my people. Now, Cesar? If he took money, I wasn’t privy to it nor did I even know. But, I do understand how people feel if they did give him money, because I gave him a lot of money that I didn’t see a dollar of returned. But for anybody to say I was involved, that is totally not true.”
DJ Envy also said that court documents showcased that he was not involved in the scam.
“If you read the court documents, Cesar wrote an affidavit that said that ‘DJ Envy..had no knowledge of me investing people’s money. He wasn’t there. He wasn’t part of those conversations, he wasn’t even nowhere in those meetings.’ Those are documents that is [is] out there. So if we are going to talk about truth, let’s talk about the truth,” DJ Envy said.
Jennifer Pina, meanwhile, insists the money is coming.
“I say, just hold tight and we’re going to come through,” she told News 4.
There is some hope for investors who bought into properties in Paterson and elsewhere in New Jersey: a judge has appointed a bankruptcy trustee to oversee some of the Pinas’ companies.
Written by: Broadcast HipHop Network
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