PHOTO: The owner of Alt Design & Construction Consulting, Inc. has been charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from people whose Breezy Point homes were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Photo Courtesy of Alt Design & Construction Consulting, Inc.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
A Long Island contractor and his construction company have been charged with stealing more than $175,000 from victims whose Breezy Point homes were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and who had contracted with the man to build their new homes, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Andrew Troiano, 51, of Maple Grove, and his corporation, Alt Design & Construction Consulting Inc., which at the time of the alleged crimes had offices in West Hempstead and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Troiano and his corporation were arraigned last Wednesday night on a criminal complaint charging each of them with violating New York State Lien Law 79-A-1 (second- and third-degree misappropriation of funds of trust), second-, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud. Troiano, who faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on Feb. 2.
In the case of Alt Design & Construction Consulting, conviction of a felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or double the amount of the illegal gain.
According to the criminal charges, following the destruction of their Graham Place home during Superstorm Sandy, a Breezy Point couple hired Alt Design & Construction as their contractor on July 23, 2013, to purchase and construct a modular home which would be erected on their property. The payment of the contractor’s price was spread out over time and payment became due based on specified acts listed in the contract. For example, it is alleged that a payment of $63,750 was due to Alt Design upon completion of the concrete foundation by a subcontractor. When the couple received an invoice from Alt Design for the completed foundation, it is alleged that they paid the company with a check dated March 31, 2014, for $63,750 and that said check cleared their account and was to be used by Alt Design for no other purpose than to pay for the foundation job.
According to the complaint, Troiano hired Malbro Construction as a subcontractor in November 2013 to install a concrete foundation and perform other construction services at the Breezy Point couple’s Graham Place location. During the course of performing the job, Malbro Construction allegedly received a partial payment of $13,000 from Alt Design, and that when the job was completed on or about April 30, 2014, Alt Design had an outstanding balance of $49,182 owed to Malbro Construction. A demand by Malbro Construction for payment from Alt Design allegedly resulted in no further payments and that although the defendants never disputed the payment due, to date, they have not paid any of the outstanding balance due.
The complaint alleges that, in all, three families became victims of Troiano and his company.
A forensic review of Alt Design’s bank records allegedly revealed that a total of $178,750 was received from the three Breezy Point homeowners and credited to Troiano’s account, but no payments were ever made to the subcontractors. And after a Breezy Point couple living on Hillside Avenue paid $55,000 to Alt Design for the ordering of their modular house, the money was used by Troiano and the company for unrelated matters, including cash withdrawals totaling more than $8,000, payments for unrelated jobs, payments to attorneys, Cablevision, Verizon Wireless, Goodyear Auto and purchases at various liquor stores and restaurants.
On Thumbtack.com, a website that delivers customized quotes so consumers can compare pricing, read reviews, and hire professionals, a user with the handle “Gina Haggerty H.” posted a one-star review on Alt Design’s page on Nov. 23: “Gave a deposit and he didn’t do a thing! We are a young couple who lost their home in sandy and he stole our money!”
User “Andrew L. from ALT Design & Construction, Inc.” replied on Dec. 10: “Mrs. Haggerty forgot to tell you that her project is being litigated with the court system. She does not answer her certified, and also feels that our company should pay for her engineering fees.”
By Michael V. Cusenza