A contractor who scammed Nassau and Suffolk county Hurricane Sandy victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for home repairs he never completed was sentenced to five years probation in Suffolk County Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Lee Moser, 49, was the owner of Capstone Realty Holdings Inc., and did business as Capstone Remodeling, based in Smithtown. He will face sentencing in Nassau County Criminal Court on Sept. 27.
Moser was arrested by the Suffolk County Police Department on Oct. 13, 2017, in Riverhead, and charged with grand larceny and scheme to defraud. On Dec. 19, he turned himself in to the Nassau D.A.’s office and appeared before a judge to face charges that included five counts of third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and two counts of operating a home-improvement business without a license. At the time, he told Judge Paul Meli that he would pay back the homeowners.
On May 31, Moser pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud in Nassau Criminal Court. He is facing 45 days in jail and five years of probation if he pays $50,000 in restitution to NY Rising — a state program, run by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, that helps homeowners impacted by natural disasters — with the remaining amount to be paid over the course of his probation. If he does not pay restitution, he could face up to a year in jail.
Among those who said they paid Moser were Bay Park residents Andrew and Christine Polizzi, of West Fulton Street, and Christine’s parents, Donna and Vincent Prisciandaro, who live on Sperry Street. In an exclusive Herald story in June 2017, titled “Hurricane horrors: Sandy victims say they paid tens of thousands for work that contractors never did,” the Polizzis and Prisciandaros said they filed complaints against Moser with the Nassau County Department of Consumer Affairs, alleging that he received payments from them to raise their homes and never completed the work.
Donna Prisciandaro said she put down a $27,150 deposit in April 2015 to have her home elevated, but the construction never began. She also showed the Herald copies of the contract and checks given to Moser’s company. Eventually, another contractor raised her home, but it remained untouched for 11 months after the work stopped.
The Polizzis said they gave $180,000 to Capstone to raise their home, but the company stopped paying its subcontractors — and they halted work on the house in the middle of the job. Andrew Polizzi said the subcontractors hit him with $50,000 in liens, and he provided the Herald with a copy of one lien for $29,000.
Polizzi said in June that he was pleased to see some justice. “I’m very happy and very satisfied on how it worked out,” he said. “I like the end results.”
They were not the only victims. According to Singas, 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 by Sandy. In most of the cases, the homeowners wrote Moser down payment checks with NY Rising funds, made payable to Capstone Remodeling. Instead of performing the work as promised, Moser made excuses as to why the work had not started, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said, including that he was in the hospital or caring for his sick mother.
In total, he is accused of stealing $113,485. Moser spent the money on gasoline, restaurants, telephone service and other expenditures to continue running his business, unrelated to the homeowners’ contracts, Singas said. Consumer Affairs sent complaints from the five victims to Singas’s office between June 2016 and April 2017, which led to an investigation.