Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim - KMSP-TV

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>>

  • Runners of 3,100-mile race in Queens seek spiritual experience

    Runners of 3,100-mile race in Queens seek spiritual experience

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:26 PM EDT2014-07-31 23:26:44 GMT
    Since mid-June, 14 runners have been on a mission that is spiritual at its core. They are running the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race in Jamaica, Queens. Spiritual leader and former Queens resident Sri Chimnoy, who died in 2007, created the race, which lasts 52 days.
    Since mid-June, 14 runners have been on a mission that is spiritual at its core. They are running the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race in Jamaica, Queens. Spiritual leader and former Queens resident Sri Chimnoy, who died in 2007, created the race, which lasts 52 days.
  • Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki to run New York City Marathon

    Wozniacki to run NYC Marathon

    Thursday, July 31 2014 4:42 PM EDT2014-07-31 20:42:50 GMT
    Former No. 1-ranked tennis star Caroline Wozniacki plans to play a full tournament schedule this fall while fitting in time to train for the New York City Marathon. She said Thursday that she long had wanted to do a marathon and decided before Wimbledon that she could pull it off this year.
    Former No. 1-ranked tennis star Caroline Wozniacki plans to play a full tournament schedule this fall while fitting in time to train for the New York City Marathon. She said Thursday that she long had wanted to do a marathon and decided before Wimbledon that she could pull it off this year.
  • 5 annoying things about the New York City subway

    5 annoying things about the New York City subway

    Thursday, July 31 2014 2:55 PM EDT2014-07-31 18:55:21 GMT
    Subway problems are annoying, but it’s just a part of living in New York City. Public transportation isn’t glamorous. It’s a pain. It’s a convenience that can cause an inconvenience. Here is a list of five annoying things about the subway system.
    Subway problems are annoying, but it’s just a part of living in New York City. Public transportation isn’t glamorous. It’s a pain. It’s a convenience that can cause an inconvenience. Here is a list of five annoying things about the subway system.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

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