Long Island Contractor Charged with Bilking Queens Homeowners

A Long Island contractor was charged with stealing $537,000 from homeowners throughout Queens following an investigation by the Queens District Attorney’s office and the city Department of Investigation (DOI).

Wayne Drinkwine, 59, who operated under the alias Wayne Thomas, ran a contracting business where he allegedly received funds for repair work that was never completed. In some instances, Drinkwine would begin demolition of a home but then left the property abandoned, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“The victims in this case, it is alleged, hired the defendant in some instances more than three years ago and paid him considerable amounts of money to remodel their residences. Instead, it is alleged that he began demolition work on their properties and then took the money and ran,” Brown said.

A South Ozone Park homeowner, who hired Drinkwine to remodel his house with new air conditioning, windows, electrical wiring, roof and kitchen, allegedly paid $103,143 of the $118,500 contract. The work was never completed.

In all, the DA said six homeowners fell victim to Drinkwine.

“This defendant billed himself as a bonafide home improvement contractor. But according to the indictment he was nothing more than a con artist who bilked unsuspecting homeowners out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and left their homes in disrepair,” DOI Commissioner Gill Hearn said.

If convicted, Drinkwine faces up to 15 years in prison.

Brown added that as homeowners continue to renovate existing homes, rather than buy new ones, they should be cautious when hiring home contractors. Payments should be put in an escrow account until work is completed, and consumers should avoid paying for a remodeling job up-front.



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