A man managed to live for free in a Manhattan hotel for five years thanks to a completely legal loophole.

This improbable – and yet true – story begins with a legal vacuum, incredible nerve and a particularly slow judicial system, as reported by the Associated Press agency. Its protagonist, 48-year-old Mickey Barreto, has taken advantage of loopholes in a somewhat outdated law to live in one of Manhattan’s most iconic hotels: the legendary Hotel New Yorker. Before being arrested by the police last February.

Imagine living in a luxury hotel in the heart of Manhattan for a pittance, or even completely free? Seems impossible, right? And yet, that’s exactly what Mickey Barreto managed to do, freshly arrived from Los Angeles to New York, who discovered a loophole in a law that allowed occupants of single rooms in buildings predating 1969 to require a six-month lease. That’s when he came up with a bold, but smart, plan to make his dream come true.

To begin his – legal – scam, Mickey Barreto booked a night for 200 euros in a room in this hotel, one of the most emblematic in Manhattan: the famous Hotel New Yorker. Based on this famous 1969 law, the man showed up the next day at reception to ask the hostess for the famous rental contract. A request obviously refused. But that did not dampen his determination. “I went to court the next day and the judge initially denied my request. But I appealed to the state Supreme Court and ultimately won,” he explains, referring to the coup thumbs up offered by the absence of the hotel owners’ lawyers – did they take him for a joke?

Under duress from the judge, the hotel was forced to give him a key. Despite the lack of agreement with the owner on the amount of rent, Mickey Barreto was able to settle in without paying a single cent, while waiting for an agreement to be reached.

But the story does not end there. In 2019, our smartass went even further by falsifying documents to claim ownership of the entire building, then then attempted to register the hotel in his name and transfer the profits to his bank accounts, according to the prosecutor’s accusations.

Finally and after a long legal standoff, justice finally ruled: Mickey Barreto went too far in his plan and was arrested for presenting fraudulent documents. “I never intended to commit any fraud. I don’t believe I ever committed fraud. And I never made a cent from it,” said Mickey Barreto, targeted by 14 counts of charge of fraud and 10 counts of criminal contempt.