Thursday, October 15, 2015

Two NJ Site Built Contractors Tricked Sandy Victims

by Erik Larsen: 732-682-9359; elarsen@gannettnj.com  Asbury Park Press

Two Barnegat, NJ men are charged with using their construction company to defraud superstorm Sandy victims in Ocean County out of more than a quarter of a million dollars, according to the Stafford Police Department.


Michael Albanese, 52, and George Larosa, 46, of GL Construction were each charged Friday with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft after a five-month criminal investigation into their business and personal activities.

Police in Stafford investigated the alleged fraud because a number of the victims are township residents and an office for GL Construction is located in the Manahawkin section of the township.
Albanese and Larosa were incarcerated in the Ocean County Jail in Toms River in lieu of $150,000 bail each. 

Both men are required to surrender any home improvement contractor licenses they possess, are barred from entering into any new contracts with customers, and are prohibited from submitting any permits for construction work. Moreover, both men are not allowed to accept payment for any home improvement contracting services, according to a prepared statement from Stafford police.

The investigation was conducted by Stafford Detective Drew Smith and Officer Richard Sinopoli. Police said the probe revealed that GL Construction, which held an office at 568 East Bay Ave. in downtown Stafford, accepted deposits and other cash payments from numerous Stafford residents to raise their homes to meet new federal flood map requirements, perform renovations and undertake new construction of Sandy-damaged homes between March 2014 and July 2015. However, the contractors failed to complete the agreed-upon work, according to police.

In total, Albanese and Larosa are accused of diverting more than $257,850 of their victims' money into their personal checking accounts for their own private use. The money they took was used to complete renovations on four investment properties in Stafford and Brigantine, property that both Albanese and Larosa had purchased together during that time, according to police.
The investigation identified other victims from other jurisdictions in Ocean County as well, with those charges still pending, police said.

Any Stafford resident who has submitted deposits or payment to GL Construction for construction that was never completed may contact Detective Smith at (609) 597-1189, ext. 8435. Victims in other Ocean County towns may contact Detective Brad Frank of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit at (732) 929-2027.



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