A Smithtown home contractor accused of scamming Nassau County superstorm Sandy victims out of more than $110,000 faces up to 7 years in prison, officials said Tuesday.
Lee Moser, 49, was arraigned in Nassau County District Court in Mineola on charges of grand larceny, scheming to defraud and operating a home improvement business without a license. Judge Paul Meli set bond at $5,000 or $2,500 cash for Moser, who is due back in court Jan. 23.
If convicted of the top count, he could be incarcerated for 2 1⁄3 years to 7 years.
“The defendant allegedly victimized these homeowners after they experienced one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release. “Anyone who feels like they have been targeted by an unscrupulous contractor is urged to contact my office or the Office of Consumer Affairs and report the incident.”
At least 13 homeowners in Nassau County lodged complaints against Moser with the consumer affairs office, which suspended his license and referred multiple cases for criminal investigation. The district attorney’s office selected five to prosecute.
Moser also faces Sandy-related grand larceny and fraud charges in Suffolk County, where he was arrested in October, and is accused of allegedly taking money from two homeowners without doing any work. Multiple additional homeowners had lodged complaints with that county’s consumer affairs office, which put his name on the county’s contractor “Wall of Shame.”
Moser’s attorney, Brian Trodden, of Smithtown, had no comment on the Nassau charges. However, he said he and Moser were in discussions with the Suffolk district attorney’s office about making restitution to the two homeowners there. Moser is due back in court on Jan. 16 on those charges.
According to Singas’ release, from April 2015 to August 2016, Moser signed contracts with five Nassau County homeowners to perform work on their homes, which had been severely damaged during the October 2012 storm.
In most of the cases, the complainants wrote the suspect a down-payment check with funds from New York Rising — which comes under the umbrella of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery — made payable to his business, Smithtown-based Capstone Remodeling. Instead of performing the work as promised, Moser provided excuses as to why the work had not started, including that he was in the hospital or caring for his sick mother, according to Singas’ office.
In total, the suspect is accused of stealing $113,485 from the complainants. Moser spent the money on gasoline, restaurants, telephone service and other expenditures to continue running his business unrelated to the homeowners’ respective contracts, according to officials.
To date, Moser, who is currently unlicensed, has not repaid any of the homeowners, according to the news release. However, the homeowners were reissued funds from New York Rising, according to Singas’ office.