The Brooklyn couple charged with running scams preying on people’s sympathy for children to coax donations face new charges after police discovered the pair had used a similar scheme since at least July 2016, Nassau officials said.
Vincent Fina, 29, and Brittney Schmidt, 30, were arraigned Monday in First District Court in Hempstead on charges of first-degree scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child before Judge Joseph Girardi.
They were released to probation authorities but are due back in court on April 17.
“The defendants allegedly used the story of sick five-year-old to con strangers into giving them money,” said Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, in a news release announcing the new charges. “Thanks to the Lynbrook Police Department and media coverage, the defendants are now facing more charges for allegedly soliciting donations for fake causes and charities.”
Fina and Schmidt already face charges that they fabricated a story about their need to collect money to pay for a child’s funeral and, on other occasions, for a sick child with cancer.
They were arrested March 3 and charged with first-degree scheming to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child after Lynbrook police spotted them on Feb. 21 entering several businesses on Merrick Road in Lynbrook with their 11-year-old son and asking for money.
The new charges were filed after an investigation by Lynbrook Police revealed the couple had also collected donations from businesses and individuals in July 2016 to send children with cancer to camp. And, in October 2016, the couple used their son to collect money on behalf of the juvenile cancer patient from several firehouses in Queens, officials said.
“Our detectives conducted a fantastic investigation into these two individuals,” Lynbrook Police Chief Joseph Neve said in the news release. “Together with District Attorney Singas we will hold these alleged criminals accountable for their actions.”
Schmidt’s attorney, Alexandra Gann of the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, declined to comment. Fina’s attorney, Cheryl Bartow, could not be reached for comment.