Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim - New York News

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>>

  • NYPD: Driver calls Sikh man a terrorist, mows him down

    NYPD: Driver calls Sikh man a terrorist

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 4:37 PM EDT2014-08-19 20:37:07 GMT
    Police have arrested a 55-year-old New York man on charges he called a Sikh man a terrorist and mowed him down with his pickup truck. The encounter happened July 30 in Richmond Hill, Queens.
    Police have arrested a 55-year-old New York man on charges he called a Sikh man a terrorist and mowed him down with his pickup truck. The encounter happened July 30 in Richmond Hill, Queens.
  • De Blasio not reimbursing city

    De Blasio not reimbursing city

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 2:37 PM EDT2014-08-19 18:37:49 GMT
    Mayor Bill de Blasio won't be reimbursing the city for personal travels that involve his security detail. "We have followed the conflict of interest board guidelines. I am following their guidelines to the letter," said de Blasio. The mayor has been heavily criticized for not paying the city back for travel expenses. Attention around the issue started last week when de Blasio was spotted not paying for a subway ride to Barclays Center while on official business.
    Mayor Bill de Blasio won't be reimbursing the city for personal travels that involve his security detail. "We have followed the conflict of interest board guidelines. I am following their guidelines to the letter," said de Blasio. The mayor has been heavily criticized for not paying the city back for travel expenses. Attention around the issue started last week when de Blasio was spotted not paying for a subway ride to Barclays Center while on official business.
  • Ex-Army psychiatrist to be NYC's veterans head

    Ex-Army psychiatrist to be NYC's veterans head

    Monday, August 18 2014 3:29 PM EDT2014-08-18 19:29:48 GMT

    A retired brigadier general who was the Army's highest-ranking psychiatrist has been named New York City's veterans affairs' commissioner. She said she'll use her expertise on post-traumatic stress disorder to serve the city's 200,000 veterans.


    A retired brigadier general who was the Army's highest-ranking psychiatrist has been named New York City's veterans affairs' commissioner. She said she'll use her expertise on post-traumatic stress disorder to serve the city's 200,000 veterans.


  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Prayer service for Atlantic City casinos

    Prayer service for Atlantic City casinos

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 12:28 PM EDT2014-08-20 16:28:08 GMT
    Hundreds of workers who will lose their jobs at three Atlantic City casinos scheduled to close in the next few weeks are looking for some divine intervention. Employees of Revel, the Showboat and Trump Plaza will hold a rally Wednesday night followed by a prayer service at a nearby church.
    Hundreds of workers who will lose their jobs at three Atlantic City casinos scheduled to close in the next few weeks are looking for some divine intervention. Employees of Revel, the Showboat and Trump Plaza will hold a rally Wednesday night followed by a prayer service at a nearby church.
  • Ultimate lemonade stand in Flatiron District

    Ultimate lemonade stand in Flatiron District

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 9:39 AM EDT2014-08-20 13:39:26 GMT
    When 826 NYC, a nonprofit organization that fosters creative writing skills, asked children ages 9-12 to dream up the ultimate lemonade stand, the responses were huge. The winning project of  The Great Lemonation Imagination Collaboration was turned into a real lemonade stand complete with free lemonade in Manhattan's Flatiron District. The organization's members were also required to help run the stand that went up at Broadway and 23rd Street on Wednesday.
    When 826 NYC, a nonprofit organization that fosters creative writing skills, asked children ages 9-12 to dream up the ultimate lemonade stand, the responses were huge. The winning project of  The Great Lemonation Imagination Collaboration was turned into a real lemonade stand complete with free lemonade in Manhattan's Flatiron District. The organization's members were also required to help run the stand that went up at Broadway and 23rd Street on Wednesday.
  • Times Square characters: we don't work for free

    Times Square characters: we don't work for free

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 9:02 AM EDT2014-08-20 13:02:47 GMT
    Times Square characters want to be taken seriously and want their tips. The mostly immigrant workers are now called the Association of Artists United for a Smile and are fighting to protect their jobs, in light of a recent crackdown. Jorge Duran says he stands around for hours, sweating inside a costume, and says it is annoying and unfair if he poses for a good picture and gets nothing.
    Times Square characters want to be taken seriously and want their tips. The mostly immigrant workers are now called the Association of Artists United for a Smile and are fighting to protect their jobs, in light of a recent crackdown. Jorge Duran says he stands around for hours, sweating inside a costume, and says it is annoying and unfair if he poses for a good picture and gets nothing.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices