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LI building contractor charged in Astoria fire insurance scam

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Louis Marando, 50,...

By Dustin Brown

A building contractor from Long Island was arrested in Bayside last week for allegedly scamming his bank out of nearly $200,000 in insurance money awarded to repair damages from an Astoria house fire, the Queens district attorney said.

Louis Marando, 50, of Lindenhurst allegedly profited from the June 2001 house fire at 12-18 Astoria Blvd. by forging the mortgage holder’s endorsement on three checks drawn up by an insurance company to pay for repairs he was hired to do, Queens DA Richard Brown said.

“The mortgage holder refused to honor the checks and the defendant’s bank sustained a loss of $194,412,” Brown said in a statement.

Detectives from the 111th Precinct arrested Marando in Bayside Jan. 8 following a three-month investigation, Brown said.

Marando was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument, Brown said. He was released without bail and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The owners of the house — Luis and Maria Aspiazu and Eduardo Guttierrez — gave Marando checks from the Allstate Insurance Company as payment for repairs he promised to perform, Brown said.

Marando told the homeowners he would get the checks endorsed by Astoria Federal Savings, the property’s mortgage holder. But he allegedly deposited the money into his account at Community Bank of New York, at 156-18 Northern Blvd. in Flushing, with stamped endorsements later discovered to have been forged, the DA said.

Astoria Federal refused to pay out on the forged checks, costing Marando’s bank $194,412, Brown said.

It was unclear whether or not Marando actually performed the house repairs.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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