Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

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>>

  • Five Guys offers bacon milkshakes

    Five Guys offers bacon milkshakes

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 6:47 PM EDT2014-08-20 22:47:08 GMT
    Burger chain Five Guys is testing the adage that everything tastes better with bacon. It is rolling out a customizable milkshake program and along with bananas, peanut butter, Oreo cookies, salted caramel, you can chose bacon.  Yes that's right: a bacon milkshake.
    Burger chain Five Guys is testing the adage that everything tastes better with bacon. It is rolling out a customizable milkshake program and along with bananas, peanut butter, Oreo cookies, salted caramel, you can chose bacon.  Yes that's right: a bacon milkshake.
  • Cardinal, leaders meet about NYPD-community relations

    Cardinal, leaders meet about NYPD-community relations

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 6:43 PM EDT2014-08-20 22:43:05 GMT
    Timothy Cardinal Dolan gathered religious and city leaders with the focus of how to ease tensions between police and the community in advance of this Saturday's march to protest the death of Eric Garner. Some of the leaders in this group are rarely photographed together, let alone seated at the same table. But they were brought together over concerns about possible protest violence by the cardinal, one of the most powerful figures in the city and who commands respect across the board.
    Timothy Cardinal Dolan gathered religious and city leaders with the focus of how to ease tensions between police and the community in advance of this Saturday's march to protest the death of Eric Garner. Some of the leaders in this group are rarely photographed together, let alone seated at the same table. But they were brought together over concerns about possible protest violence by the cardinal, one of the most powerful figures in the city and who commands respect across the board.
  • New York's daring Instagrammers

    New York's daring Instagrammers

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 6:03 PM EDT2014-08-20 22:03:35 GMT
    Pull out your smartphone on any given day, tap on Instagram and you'll find a lot of selfies. But while the rest of us clog our feeds with our best pouty faces, a group of photographers scales and then hangs off bridges and buildings in a contest to produce the most daring photograph in New York City.
    Pull out your smartphone on any given day, tap on Instagram and you'll find a lot of selfies. But while the rest of us clog our feeds with our best pouty faces, a group of photographers scales and then hangs off bridges and buildings in a contest to produce the most daring photograph in New York City.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

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