Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Superstorm Sandy

Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim

Posted: Updated:
After Sandy After Sandy

DAVID B. CARUSO | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York City woman who spent the past 9 1/2 months portraying herself as a victim of Superstorm Sandy is now facing charges that she made it all up to collect insurance money, free hotel lodging and thousands of dollars in relief aid.

Caterina Curatolo, 48, was arrested Monday at a hotel in Brooklyn where she had been staying at taxpayer expense because of her supposed inability to return to her Queens home.

In a series of aid applications and interviews with caseworkers and insurance adjusters, Curatolo had claimed that the house had been had been struck by lightning four times and ruined by flooding during the October storm.

In reality, investigators with the attorney general's office said, the house sat in a neighborhood far from any flooding and had been in a state of severe disrepair for years, to the point where neighbors had repeatedly complained about its dilapidated state.

The investigation also revealed that Curatolo had made a similar claim about storm damage after Hurricane Irene struck the city in 2011, officials said.

That time, she received more than $7,700 in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This year, her take was much higher, authorities said. A city program for storm refugees spent $83,500 putting her up in hotel rooms for 269 days. She got another $3,590 in benefits from the Red Cross, according to the criminal complaint.

Curatolo's arrest "shows that scammers who trade on tragedy will be exposed and punished," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

Curatolo's lawyer, Elizabeth Pruser, didn't immediately return a phone message Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities said Curatolo also filed an auto insurance claim contending that her Jeep Grand Cherokee had been ruined in Sandy's deluge, but an adjuster with her insurer, GEICO, found none of the telltale signs of flood damage, according to investigators. She filed another homeowner's insurance claim for more than $15,000, saying that her roof had suffered water damage and that a ceiling had collapsed, the criminal complaint said.

Curatolo was arraigned late Monday at a courthouse in Queens on charges including grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. A judge released her pending trial.

  • Queens NewsQueens NewsMore>>

  • FAA extends ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv

    FAA extends ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 4:18 PM EDT2014-07-23 20:18:55 GMT
    The Federal Aviation Administration has extended the ban on U.S. carriers from flying to Tel Aviv for another 24 hours. Word came from the FAA at about 12:40 pm. on Wednesday, 24 hours after it issued its initial ban to Israel and following a rocket launch from Gaza that landed near the Ben Gurion airport.
    The Federal Aviation Administration has extended the ban on U.S. carriers from flying to Tel Aviv for another 24 hours. Word came from the FAA at about 12:40 pm. on Wednesday, 24 hours after it issued its initial ban to Israel and following a rocket launch from Gaza that landed near the Ben Gurion airport.
  • Bloomberg flies to Israel in show of support

    Bloomberg flies to Israel in show of support

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 4:12 PM EDT2014-07-23 20:12:27 GMT
    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Israel via a commercial El Al flight despite an FAA ban on U.S.-based airlines flying to Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Bloomberg on the tarmac outside the El Al jet Wednesday at Ben Gurion International Airport.
    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Israel via a commercial El Al flight despite an FAA ban on U.S.-based airlines flying to Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Bloomberg on the tarmac outside the El Al jet Wednesday at Ben Gurion International Airport.
  • Is NYC the most unhappy city in America?

    Is NYC the most unhappy city in America?

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-07-23 14:29:16 GMT
    When researchers in Canada and Harvard University examined the results of a survey that asked “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” they found that New York City is the unhappiest city in the country. The data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit round out the list.
    When researchers in Canada and Harvard University examined the results of a survey that asked “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” they found that New York City is the unhappiest city in the country. The data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit round out the list.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices