2008-11-28 / Community

Famous Homeless Man Winds Up In Rockaway

By Howard Schwach

Roger Greenlee in a recent photo taken at the Resort Nursing Home. Roger Greenlee in a recent photo taken at the Resort Nursing Home. A homeless man, who had his fifteen minutes of fame in 2007 when he was sued for $1 million by a Madison Avenue gallery owner, has landed in a Rockaway nursing home, published reports say.

Roger Greenlee, who abandoned his family and home for life on a Manhattan subway grate, has become a resident at the Resort Nursing Home, located at 430 Beach 68 Street, after disappearing from his Manhattan haunts in late September.

The gray-bearded Greenlee, who once could be found preaching on the medians of Park Avenue, was sued by the owner of the Madison Avenue gallery because the owner believed that the hobo was bad for his business, chasing away customers with his requests for money and his preaching.

The 2007 lawsuit brought attention to the plight of posh east side stores that had homeless living in front of them and made Greenlee a nationallyfamous hobo.

The lawsuit was eventually dropped, but the national news alerted Greenlee's family as to his whereabouts.

Greenlee reportedly left home more than 30 years ago after an ugly dispute with his father over money.

His nephew told the New York Post that he often searched the internet, looking for word of his uncle.

Roger's father, Lawrence Greenlee, said in January that he hoped that his son would one day come home.

After the lawsuit and the attendant publicity, real estate mogul Edward Baron Cohen helped Greenlee by giving him some money and allowing the homeless man to leave his meager belongings at his home.

Apparently, Greenlee suffered a head injury in a Manhattan fall and was treated at a hospital and then, as is the case with many homeless, was admitted to the Rockaway nursing home.

"I like it down here," Greenlee told New York Post reporters Jill Culora and Kathianne Boniello. "I'm getting lots of physical therapy. The conditions are perfect."

The nursing home will keep him until the summer, officials say. Then, he will be released to Rockaway's streets or he will go back to his preaching in Manhattan.

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