Queens woman busted after allegedly posing as hurricane victim to steal benefits

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(PIX11) — The NY State Attorney General’s office on Tuesday arrested a Queens woman after she allegedly posed as a victim of hurricanes Sandy and Irene to steal benefits.

Caterina Curatolo of Fresh Meadows had been staying until her arrest in hotels on the city’s dime for 269 days, racking up a bill of more than $83,000. Officials say the woman owns two properties next to each other in Queens.

Curatolo also allegedly lied after Hurricane Irene in 2011, falsifying FEMA documents and getting a check for $7,712.42, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

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Caterina Curatolo was charged with multiple counts of fraud.

Curatolo has been charged with multiple counts of fraud and grand larceny in addition to other charges. She faces up to 10 years in prison

NY State Attorney General  told PIX11 News that Curatolo’s filings with several agencies began to raise suspicions, which in turn set off the investigation.

The office found that damage to Curatolo’s house and Jeep happened long before Hurricane Sandy and was likely a result of neglect. Furthermore, the indictment alleges the Queens woman used more than $3,500 she received from the Red Cross and the city to go retail shopping at stores including Marshall’s, Dress Barn and Best Buy, among  others.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says his office is prioritizing reimbursement for the agencies. Her two houses in Queens will likely be targeted for that purpose.

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