A Kings County contractor faces up to 15 years in prison for allegedly scamming a Midwood couple out of a whopping $700,000 he used to fund a lavish lifestyle of designer clothes and high-class restaurants.
The 45-year-old defendant — himself a Midwood resident — was arraigned Tuesday on charges including second-, third-, and fourth-degree grand larceny, in addition to second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, and Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun ordered him held on $50,000 bail, according to District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
The contractor’s scheme kicked off in December 2012 when a Midwood couple hired him to preform some minor repairs on their two-story home in, but the scope of work soon expanded to include excavation work, construction of a massive six-story extension and balcony, and the installation of a new elevator, among other additions, Gonzalez said.
The next five years saw virtually no work done of the various jobs the contractor had agreed to preform, but that didn’t stop him from writing more than 300 checks to pay for environmental reviews, architectural designs, and construction permits that prosecutors claim were all complete fabrications.
Instead, the defendant spent the victims’ hard earned money on high-end merchandise from designer brands, including Coach, Oscar de la Renta, and Burberry, and meals at upscale eateries such as Tao and the famed Russian Tea Room, according to prosecutors, who say that of the $700,000 the contractor expensed, only $9,000 was ever spent on actual building supplies.
Throughout the nearly half-decade they were getting ripped off, the victims continued to live at the same Midwood home that prosecutors claim was not being renovated, but the contractor used various schemes, including showing doctored receipts and blueprints, along with sending copies of faked emails from government agencies to dupe his clients into signing more checks, according to a law enforcement source.
The case was investigated by the Gonzalez’s Investigation Bureau, along with detectives out of the 70th Police Precinct in Midwood, and is being prosecuted by the district attorney’s Fraud Bureau.
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