A Long Island contractor has been charged with stealing more than $175,000 from Breezy Point, Queens, residents victimized by superstorm Sandy, prosecutors said Thursday.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced the arrest of Andrew L. Troiano, 54, of Lake Grove, who was arraigned Wednesday night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Bruna Dibiase on a complaint charging him with second-degree and third-degree misappropriation of funds of trust, second-degree, third-degree and fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud.
Troiano pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on Feb. 2 and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
His company, Alt Design and Construction Consulting Inc., which at the time of the alleged crimes had offices in West Hempstead, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., faces the same charges — with conviction punishable by fines of double the amount on each count, capped at $10,000 each, officials said.
Authorities said that after Sandy and ensuing fires devastated a section of Breezy Point in October 2012 Troiano and his company contracted with at least three sets of homeowners to rebuild their properties. But, the Queens district attorney said, though those homeowners paid a total of $178,750, payments were not made to subcontractors hired by Alt Design and Troiano — and that, in at least one case, a lien was placed against one of the properties as a result.
One property was located on Graham Place, another on Fulton Walk and the third on Hillside Avenue. In the case of the Hillside Avenue site, authorities said the homeowners had to pay a subcontractor who did soil testing on the property due to non-payment of the sub by Alt Design — even though Alt Design and Troiano had been paid by the owners.
“New Yorkers are resilient people who can tolerate just about anything — even a hurricane thrown into their path,” Brown said in a statement Thursday. “But while falling victim to a destructive act of nature can be viewed as an unavoidable occurrence, falling prey to an unscrupulous contractor after such a storm, as is alleged in this case, is an entirely different story. The defendants are accused of ripping off homeowners who lost their homes and virtually all their material possession and had turned to the defendants for help in rebuilding their lives.”