Uniondale general contractor stole nearly $250,000 from Queens homeowners, DA says

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The owner of a Uniondale home improvement company has been charged with bilking four Queens homeowners out of almost $250,000 for contracting work that he did not complete, the Queens district attorney's office said Thursday.

Derrick Burrell, 47, of Rockville Centre, was arraigned Wednesday night on four counts of misappropriation of funds of trust under the state lien laws, two counts of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree larceny and one count of second-degree scheme to defraud, prosecutors said.

As owner and president of D&E Properties Management & Services, Burrell performed demolition work between July 2009 and August 2012 at homes in Woodside, Queens Village, Hollis and Jamaica, prosecutors said.

But he never returned to finish the jobs, even though the victims had paid amounts ranging from $9,600 to more than $103,000 for the home improvements, said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

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"In some cases, he allegedly left the victims homeless," he said in a news release.

Burrell allegedly cashed the homeowners' checks at various check-cashing locations in Long Island and New Jersey but did not deposit the funds into a business account, as required by law. If contractors get funds from clients when the jobs are far from completion, they are supposed to put the money into an escrow account and the clients are supposed to be told within 10 days where the money is being held, Brown said.

Burrell was released on a $3,000 bond and scheduled to return to court Sept. 9. If convicted, he faces up to 44 years in prison, prosecutors said.

His attorney, Dorian R. Glover of Garden City, declined to comment.

Brown advised consumers to check a contractor's references, saying defective or incomplete home improvements are among the top consumer complaints received by his office.

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