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
(iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Hochul plan for resi towers is tall order
Hochul plan for resi towers is tall order
From left: Letitia James, attorney general of New York; Donald Trump, 45th U.S. president (Getty Images, Wikipedia/ChrisRuvolo, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
New York AG alleges Trump altered values at 6 properties
New York AG alleges Trump altered values at 6 properties
From left: Joseph Riever and Christopher Marte (Elizabeth Street Garden, New York City Campaign Finance Board)
After 10-year saga, judge’s delay keeps senior housing unbuilt
After 10-year saga, judge’s delay keeps senior housing unbuilt
From left: Kathy Hochul, governor of New York; Robert Mujica, director of the budget for New York State (Getty Images, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
$2B in Hochul budget could fund rent relief
$2B in Hochul budget could fund rent relief
Housing Justice for All’s Cea Weaver and Rent Stabilization Association’s Joseph Strasburg (Illustration by Ilya Hourie for The Real Deal)
The benefits and costs of “good cause” eviction
The benefits and costs of “good cause” eviction
East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and 395 Pantigo Road in East Hampton (EHamptonNY.gov, Zillow, iStock)
East Hampton Town officials vow affordable housing action
East Hampton Town officials vow affordable housing action
Demonstrators in front of the New York Public Library in Bryant Park (Photos by Suzie Cavanaugh for The Real Deal/Illustration by Steven Dilakian)
Good cause eviction protest ends in arrests outside Hochul’s NYC office
Good cause eviction protest ends in arrests outside Hochul’s NYC office
From left: Eric Adams, mayor of New York City; Rich Buery, chief executive officer, Robin Hood; Scott Short, chief executive officer, RiseBoro (Getty Images, Twitter/LISC NYC, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Nonprofits call for greater access to city vouchers as evictions loom
Nonprofits call for greater access to city vouchers as evictions loom
arrow_forward_ios

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

Loading...