QUEENS — The Kew Gardens Hills woman busted earlier this week for stealing more than $87,000 by posing as a Hurricane Sandy victim once served on the Queens Borough President’s Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities, according to the Borough President's office.
Caterina Curatolo, 48, charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records, also served on the Borough President's Task Force on Domestic Violence, said Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President, Helen Marshall.
In 2004, according to published reports, she was named one of 10 "Citizens of Distinction" by the borough president.
She was also cited for her work as a board member of the Queens Independent Living Center and a past recipient of the Borough President’s Award for People with Disabilities.
Andrews said that Curatolo served for the Queens Borough President "about 8 or 9 years ago," but said that neither of the posts were paid positions.
“It’s a law enforcement issue so it’s not something we would comment on,” Andrews said.
Curatolo, who owns two houses in Kew Gardens Hills, lived in hotels provided to Sandy evacuees for more than 269 days, at a cost of approximately $83,500, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
She claimed that the damage to the roof made her house uninhabitable. But it turned out that the damage occurred at least a year before and that she also owns a second home next door, on 159th Street, between the Horace Harding Expressway and 59th Avenue, officials said.
Curatolo also received other benefits, including $3,590 for food. Instead, she spent some of the money at stores, including Best Buy, Marshalls and Fabco Shoes, according to Schneiderman.
And she allegedly made a fraudulent auto insurance claim, claiming that her car was a total loss due to water damage caused by Sandy, officials said.
If convicted, she faces up to 7 years in prison.
Curatolo, who was released without bail, is due back in court on Sept. 23.