Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim

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>>

  • Pregnant woman says officer put her in choke hold

    Pregnant woman says officer put her in choke hold

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:04 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:04:28 GMT
    A Brooklyn woman who is seven months pregnant released photos that she said show an NYPD officer putting her in a choke hold as she was being arrested for grilling on the sidewalk outside her home.  Rosean Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct on Saturday and her husband Moses was arrested for obstructing government business, a criminal charge. It's the latest in a string of reported choke holds by police officers. The move is not allowed under NYPD policy. 
    A Brooklyn woman who is seven months pregnant released photos that she said show an NYPD officer putting her in a choke hold as she was being arrested for grilling on the sidewalk outside her home.  Rosean Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct on Saturday and her husband Moses was arrested for obstructing government business, a criminal charge. It's the latest in a string of reported choke holds by police officers. The move is not allowed under NYPD policy. 
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:22 AM EDT2014-07-29 13:22:47 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • NYC woman finds wedding dress lost after Sandy

    NYC woman finds wedding dress lost after Sandy

    When a New York City dry cleaners was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, the only item to survive was Nicole Pagliaro's wedding dress. But her name was lost to owner Hector Pacheco, who reopened after more than a year and in a new location. Pagliaro had brought the dress to him after her 2012 wedding. When the storm swamped and shuttered the Staten Island store, she assumed it was lost. But two weeks ago, she took a different route to work and spotted it in the window.
    When a New York City dry cleaners was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, the only item to survive was Nicole Pagliaro's wedding dress. But her name was lost to owner Hector Pacheco, who reopened after more than a year and in a new location. Pagliaro had brought the dress to him after her 2012 wedding. When the storm swamped and shuttered the Staten Island store, she assumed it was lost. But two weeks ago, she took a different route to work and spotted it in the window.
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 | Terms of Service | Ad Choices