MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a home improvement contractor from Brooklyn has been arrested for allegedly scamming Superstorm Sandy victims out of nearly $400,000.
Richard Holowchak, 53, was arraigned yesterday before Judge William Hohauser and charged with:
The defendant was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court January 17. If convicted of the top count he faces a maximum of five to 15 years in prison.
“This defendant is accused of preying on innocent Nassau County residents who just lost their homes to the most destructive storm to ever hit our area,” DA Singas said. “Crooked contractors target desperate homeowners and I encourage anyone who may have been victimized by a contractor to reach out to our office or the Office of Consumer Affairs and report the incident.”
DA Singas said in the months following Superstorm Sandy, the defendant and his business, Blue Diamond Construction Management Inc., sought business from victims of the storm and even obtained a contractor’s booth at the Disaster Relief Center in Freeport. The defendant met five homeowners who signed contracts with him to perform construction work on their homes. All five of the victims’ homes suffered significant damage during the storm. After entering the contract, the defendant was paid either directly by the victims’ insurance companies or by the victims themselves. In most of the cases little or no repair or construction work was performed to the homes. In total, $394,500 was allegedly stolen by the defendant.
Checks received by the defendant were often cashed at check cashing facilities, while some of the checks received were deposited into bank accounts for the defendant’s business, Blue Diamond Construction Management Inc. The defendant is accused of spending business funds from various linked Blue Diamond Construction bank accounts on boating and fishing-related expenses, meals, a large purchase on the website Travelocity and smaller purchases on Netflix and Fandango.
The NCDA received the first complaint from the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs in December 2014.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Heid of DA Singas’ Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Jonathan Scher, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.