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Release # 161-2011 ww w.queensda.org

DISTRICT ATTORNEY

QUEENS COUNTY

125-01 QUEENS BOULEVARD KEW GARDENS, NEW YORK 11415-1568 718-286-6000

RICHARD A. BROWN

D ISTRICT A TTORNEY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2011

CONTACT: KEVIN RYAN HELEN PETERSON MERIS CAMPBELL 718-286-6315

TWO LONG ISLAND BROTHERS REARRESTED IN ALLEGED RIPOFF OF ELDERLY HOMEOWNER Charged under Hate Crimes Statute for Targeting Elderly Homeowner in Chimney Scam; Defendants Rearrested Just Hours After Dropping Off Restitution Check In Earlier Case At D.A.'s Office Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today announced that two Long Island brothers who pleaded guilty last month in a case in which they were charged under New York State's Hate Crime Law with stealing more than $30,000 from three elderly Queens homeowners for chimney and roof work that was never done were re-arrested last week on similar charges less than two hours after one of the brothers came to the District Attorney's Kew Gardens office and made a partial restitution payment owed in the earlier case. In the latest case, the two brothers are charged with similarly scamming an elderly Flushing woman out of more than $24,000. District Attorney Brown said, "The defendants were given the opportunity to plead guilty and make full restitution in order to spare their elderly victims the stress and ordeal of testifying at trial. However, it appears that the defendants did not learn from their earlier encounter with the criminal justice system. They are alleged to have once again targeted an elderly Queens homeowner to steal a substantial amount of money. Their alleged crime is particularly egregious and will be vigorously prosecuted." The District Attorney identified the defendants as Bruce Wimmer, 29, of Half Circle Drive in Holbrook, New York, and his brother Michael Cristiano, 33, of Hewlett Avenue in Patchogue, New York. The defendants, who in the past have allegedly operated under the name, Reliable Chimney, Inc., or under a false name, American Chimney, were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, on a criminal complaint charging each of them with thirddegree grand larceny as a hate crime, third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and a violation of section 20-401 (1a) of the City's Administrative Code (Conducting or Operating a Home Improvement Business Without a License). The defendants, who face up to fifteen years in prison if convicted, are each being held on $35,000 bail. They are scheduled to return to court on October 4, 2011. District Attorney Brown said that on August 2, 2011, Wimmer and Cristiano each pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree scheme to defraud in satisfaction of the charges pending against them since June 2011 and agreed to make $30,406 in restitution to their victims on or before sentencing. At approximately 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, Cristiano dropped off a restitution (MORE)

-2check for $7,500 at the District Attorney's offices. At 5:30 p.m. that same day he and his brother were arrested in the driveway of a 90-year-old Flushing woman who, according to the criminal charges, they allegedly defrauded out of $24,185 by overcharging her for chimney work that either was not done or was minimal at best. District Attorney Brown said that, according to the most recent charges, between August 20, 2011, and September 8, 2011, Cristiano and Wimmer, who are not licensed to operate a chimney contracting business in New York City, offered to clean the homeowner's chimney, perform work on her driveway and repair her fence. Shortly thereafter, the defendants allegedly demanded $5,500 for chimney work they stated that they had completed. It is alleged that thereafter the two defendants repeatedly returned to the victim's home without solicitation and demanded payment for work and supplies. It is further alleged that the defendants drove their victim to the bank to collect the money. In total, it is alleged that the defendants stole $24,185 from the victim. The case came to light when the victim's bank became concerned about the number of large withdrawals she was making and contacted the New York City Police Department's 107th Precinct. The arrest was made by Police Officer Sastri Drysdale, of the NYPD's 107th Precinct, under the supervision of Sergeant Kelly Busby and the overall supervision of Captain Michael Coyle, the commanding officer of the 107th Precinct. The District Attorney said that any other individuals who believe they may also have been victimized by the defendants should call the District Attorney's Economic Crimes Bureau at 718286-6673 to file a complaint. Assistant District Attorney Kristen A. Kane, Chief of the District Attorney's Elder Fraud Unit, is prosecuting both cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gregory C. Pavlides, Chief of the Economic Crimes Bureau, and Christina Hanophy, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney of the Investigations Division Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni. It should be noted that a complaint is merely an accusation and that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. #

No te to E ditor s: Press release e-version p osted at w ww.queensd a.org.

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