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Cops: Fifth arrest in National Grid scam

A Lindenhurst man is the fifth person arrested on charges he defrauded National Grid in a $1.4 million rebate scam, Suffolk County police said Monday.

John Bono, 43, of 9C E. Hoffman Ave., received $147,000 in the scheme involving fraudulent energy efficient rebates submitted to the utility company, Identity Theft detectives said after a 12-month investigation.

Bono submitted rebate applications for the upgrades but the work was never completed or did not qualify for the rebates, police said in a news release.

Some rebates were made payable to two of his corporations, John Bono Realty and Bono Development Corp., police said.

Overall, the five-person scheme resulted in the theft of about $1.4 million from National Grid, police said. The energy-efficient rebate program is funded by rate payers and is designed to promote the use of energy-efficient products.

A police spokeswoman said Monday the five charged in the scam were "loosely affiliated" but she could not provide any more details.

Bono is charged with two counts of grand larceny and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Central Islip.

In February, police arrested Charles Sjogren, 47, of Hopewell Junction, and charged him with one count of grand larceny and six counts of identity theft in connection with the same scam. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 4.

In July 2011, Michael Castronovo, 41, of Franklin Square, was arraigned on nine counts of identity theft and one count of grand larceny in the scam. He is due back in court on Thursday.

Police said Castronovo's Franklin Square company, Star General Contracting, was used on rebate applications but that energy-efficient upgrades were not completed. Police said in July Castronovo stole almost $80,000 based on activities uncovered in Suffolk.

Two other Suffolk County men were arraigned on charges in June 2011 relating to the scam.

Ralph Bianco, 53, of Farmingdale, a heating-and-cooling technician, applied for the energy efficiency rebates under the assistance of John Glaser, 53, of Lindenhurst, who was employed by the utility company at the time, police said.

They started applying for the rebates in 2009, using the names of eight Suffolk County businesses on the applications, police said, costing National Grid about $100,000.

Each man is scheduled to be back in court on May 31.

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