Four people charged with swindling the city over Sandy repairs

They were accused of lying and claiming damaged homes were their primary residences

New York /
Feb.February 15, 2017 04:50 PM

Four people were arrested Wednesday on charges that they’d scammed the city to get $300,000 in free renovations and repairs through the city’s Rapid Repairs and Build it Back programs.

Both of the aid programs were designed to make necessary repairs to homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But a new report by the city’s Department of Investigation found homeowners received repairs and reimbursements on homes, despite living elsewhere, DNAinfo reported.

Among those allegedly scamming the system was Donata Rea, 58, who allegedly filed a false application through Build it Back to get benefits from an elderly woman who died in 2011. John Holl, 73, claimed his home in Breezy Point as his primary residence and received more than $85,000 from Build It Back — even though officials say he actually lives on Long Island. George Bonitsis, 67, allegedly lives in Brooklyn but still had his Breezy Point summer home rebuilt, which cost Build it Back $125,000. Another man, John Phelan, 54, had $477,000 worth of repairs spent on his home on Reid Avenue before officials say they found he did not live there full time.

All four are awaiting arraignment at Queens Criminal Court, according to the website.

The areas of the city damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 have seen an uptick in construction, with the Department of Buildings issuing the most permits for Breezy Point over the past two years.

As of October, Build it Back was half-a-billion dollars over budget, and had helped fewer than a third of the homes initially enrolled in the program. City officials had agreed they had mismanaged the recovery effort.  [DNAinfo]Miriam Hall


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
City Council Member Robert Holden (Getty)
Bill would expose Council members’ rent-stabilized status
Bill would expose Council members’ rent-stabilized status
(Getty Images)
LA developer doubled as abusive porn director, documentary alleges
LA developer doubled as abusive porn director, documentary alleges
(Getty Images)
Millions of housing units are needed in the US
Millions of housing units are needed in the US
From left: Silverstein Properties CEO Marty Burger; BedRock Real Estate Partners co-founder Tracey Applebaum; Council member Julie Won; a rendering of Innovation QNS in Astoria (Getty, BedRock Real Estate Partners, New York City Council)
Council approves Silverstein, BedRock’s $2B Innovation QNS
Council approves Silverstein, BedRock’s $2B Innovation QNS
CHIP's Jay Martin and HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas (Getty)
Lies, damn lies, and statistics: Did rent-stabilized vacancies really fall?
Lies, damn lies, and statistics: Did rent-stabilized vacancies really fall?
MSquared's Alicia Glen, Mack Real Estate Group's Richard Mack and Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development's Barika Williams (Getty, ANHD)
Richard Mack: New York developers “made to feel like the devil”
Richard Mack: New York developers “made to feel like the devil”
From left: BedRock’s Chuck Berman and Tracey Appelbaum, Kaufman Astoria Studios' Hal Rosenbluth, and Larry Silverstein with Innovation QNS
Silverstein, Council strike deal on Queens megaproject
Silverstein, Council strike deal on Queens megaproject
Quara Holding CEO Ziad El Chaar and Donald Trump  (Getty, LinkedIn)
Trump Organization signs licensing deal with Saudi developer
Trump Organization signs licensing deal with Saudi developer
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...