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A filmmaker is suing a New York City Burger King for enabling dozens of “professional” dealers to use the storefront as an “open-air drug bazaar.” The restaurant’s owner responded.

Director and executive producer Kevin Kaufman, 69, sued the Burger King at 106 Fulton St. because he believes the fast food chain wasn’t doing enough to combat the drug dealings in the area, the New York Times reported.

According to the $15 million lawsuit Kaufman filed at the Manhattan Supreme Court, around eight to 10 drug dealers would stand outside the establishment, selling illegal drugs at the entrance. When ugly weather hit, the “professional” dealers would move business inside the food place.

The New York Police Department has arrested two people and received 143 calls about that specific Burger King location since Jan. 1, 2023, but there’s only so much they can do.

“We’ve reached out to every direction we can, and the only ones that seem to be responsive and listening are the cops,” Kaufman, 69, said. “Cops are doing everything they can to get rid of these people, but they’re handcuffed. It’s this idiotic bail reform. They have arrested a couple of people, but they are back within 24 hours.”

Kaufman, who’s married with two children, lived on the block for 20 years and has been urged by his children to pack up and leave for safety concerns. But the filmmaker who produced the first season of The Real Housewives of Orange County in 2006 and the 2018 A&E documentary Gotti: Godfather and Son refused to allow the drug dealers to drive him away from his home.

The 69-year-old recalled how quiet the block was when he moved in. But he believes the smoke shops that peppered the block attracted the nosy illegal activities that now plague the Burger King location.

“There are crazy people yelling and screaming every night here,” he said. “It’s nightmarish. If you go close by, to Tribeca, to Battery Park, Soho; you don’t see any of this stuff. It’s all dumped here. It’s kind of the city’s garbage can.”

He turned his frustration toward the fast food joint’s owner, Lalmir Sultanzada, 66, of Melville, Long Island. 

Sultanzada is an Afghan immigrant who owns several franchises in the five boroughs and Long Island, including Popeyes and Dunkin’.

Kaufman accused Sultanzada of allowing such illegal activity to happen before the joint.

“He doesn’t take responsibility, he throws it on the lap of the cops instead of hiring security himself and policing his own store,” he said. “Fulton Street is now a neighborhood in crisis.”

Kaufman also stated in the lawsuit that the drug dealers had extensive criminal records and were well-known among local police.

Kaufman’s $15 million lawsuit against Sultanzada’s joint and Burger King’s corporate office accuses them of violating the city’s private nuisance law and requests the court order the fast food chain to “stop terrorizing his neighborhood and turning Fulton Street into an open-air drug bazaar.”

Sultanzada expressed to the outlet that he would like the illegal drug transactions and noise to stop, especially since the drug dealers have assaulted his workers on a couple of occasions. Still, he argues it’s not his problem and that the government should interfere.

“They’re hanging around. They throw everything inside the stores. A couple of times, they hit one of my managers,” Sultanzada said. “We’ve got the same problem all over: 125th Street, same problem; 116th Street, same problem; go to the Bronx, same problem.”

The owner continued, “It’s not me. Go talk with the government, talk with the police department, talk with the mayor, talk with the governor,” he said. “They have to find a solution for those bums, not me.”

Other residents have complained about the amount of noise and problems the drug dealers have brought since taking over the Burger King location. 

“There’s no restaurant patrons, no one goes in there to eat,” Evan Gillman, a neighbor, told the outlet. “These guys are here all day.”

City officials are trying to get a hand on the issue.

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