Manorhaven men get probation in Sandy cleanup case

Carlo Strangolagalli, 51, and Michael Mercante, 46, both

Carlo Strangolagalli, 51, and Michael Mercante, 46, both of Manorhaven, will serve probation terms after what authorities said was a scam aimed at collecting more than $270,000 for cleanup work in the village after superstorm Sandy. They are seen in file photos from Dec. 19, 2013. Photo Credit: NCPD

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Two Manorhaven men will serve probation terms after what authorities said was a scam aimed at collecting more than $270,000 for cleanup work in the village after superstorm Sandy.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter Tuesday sentenced Michael Mercante, 46, and Carlo Strangolagalli, 51, to two years' probation.

Each previously had pleaded guilty in Nassau County Court to third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a misdemeanor.

Authorities had alleged Mercante -- a former village board of trustees candidate -- and Strangolagalli demanded payment meant for a construction company the village hired to remove debris and trees and fix curbs and sidewalks after the storm. An indictment had included felony charges.

Village attorney James Toner previously said Mercante told a clerk at Village Hall that he and Strangolagalli -- a relative of the construction company's owner -- had bought the company and the money should go to them. He said the men also faxed a forged letter from a UPS store saying the company had been transferred to them. But village employees became suspicious and the money wasn't paid.

Mercante's lawyer, William Petrillo, said his client is a "hardworking family man" who had partnered with the owner of the same company and that venture hadn't been fully dissolved.

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"He legitimately did many hours of labor post-Sandy in an effort to help the community. He was trying to get paid for the work he did. He went about it the wrong way," the Rockville Centre attorney said.

Strangolagalli's attorney, Dana Grossblatt of Jericho, declined to comment.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a prepared statement that village officials were "instrumental" in helping the prosecution.

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