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Long IslandCrime

DA: Man scammed Suffolk businesses with fake inspections

Michael Castellano, 51, of Brooklyn, was arrested Monday

Michael Castellano, 51, of Brooklyn, was arrested Monday on felony charges of scheme to defraud in the first degree and falsifying business records in the first degree, and a misdeameanor charge of petty larceny. Credit: SCDA

A Brooklyn man conducted fake fire extinguisher inspections and took money from about 30 businesses in Suffolk County, the district attorney’s office said.

Michael Castellano, 51, was arrested Monday and faces felony charges of scheme to defraud in the first degree and falsifying business records in the first degree as well as a misdemeanor charge of petty larceny, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said.

Castellano was targeting small businesses owned by immigrants who, in many cases, speak English as a second language, said District Attorney Timothy Sini.

“This individual was preying on small business owners who were trying to do the right thing and protect the safety of their employees,” said a statement from Sini. “This is not just a matter of bringing a scam artist to justice; it is a matter of ensuring that our small businesses are safe and in compliance with fire safety laws.”

According to Sini’s office, Castellano charged clients $20 per fire extinguisher inspection and had collected approximately $1,050 from businesses across Suffolk County. He operated under the business name Liberty Fire Extinguisher Sales Co. and had falsified certificates of inspection since August 2017.

Sini’s office said Castellano was changing inspection tags without servicing the equipment.

Castellano’s bail was set at $20,000 bond or $5,000 cash, and is due back in court Friday. He could not be reached Tuesday. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County, which doesn’t typically comment on cases.

The investigation was conducted with assistance from the Suffolk County Fire Marshal’s Office. Authorities are asking potential victims to contact the District Attorney’s office at 631-853-5602 or InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov.

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