A Williston Park contractor was among 61 contractors arrested by county authorities in a series of sting operations following complaints from victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The arrests for misdemeanor charges of operating without a license or insurance, announced by Nassau County Edward Mangano at a press conference Thursday, followed two months of investigations that targeted contractors working in Franklin Square and Valley Stream after the storm left thousands of residents scrambling to complete home repairs.
“It is a loud and clear message to our contractor community: do not attempt to scam our homeowners, our residents. Do not attempt to scam Sandy Victim survivors,” said Mangano. “If you attempt to scam those recovering from Hurricane Sandy, you will be dealt with in the harshest way under the law.”
Ermen D. Lopez of F K J Enterprises, a Williston Park resident, was among those charged.
The joint investigation between the Nassau County Police Department’s 4th Precinct and the county’s Consumer Affairs Department has led to the impounding of more than 50 vehicles and more than $100,000 levied in fines, of which $82,000 has been collected so far, according to officials.
Some victims have already received restitution, while other cases are still in the pipeline. One contractor, said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Madalyn Farley, allegedly scammed hurricane victims out of $80,000.
No fraud charges have been filed, but Mangano said investigations are ongoing and could lead to additional criminal complaints.
The heavy damage on the South Shore following Sandy created an environment ripe for scammers, said First Deputy Police Chief Tom Krumpter.
“You have billions of dollars worth of damage being done, and there are some very unscrupulous people out there who are taking advantage of the situation,” Krumpter said.
The announcement of the arrests was described as a warning to contractors not to flout the law.
“The county executive has made this very clear: this will not be tolerated in Nassau County,” Krumpter said.