Today’s news:

Charges dropped for man accused of Astoria scam

The contractor, Louis Marando of Lindenhurst, had been charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument, the DA's office said.

Those charges were dismissed Dec. 12 by Judge Dorothy Chin Brandt in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens on the recommendation of the DA's office, a DA spokeswoman said.

"There was insufficient evidence to proceed criminally," said the spokeswoman.

The DA's office charged Marando in January 2003, alleging that the contractor received three checks from Allstate Insurance Company made out to Luis and Maria Aspiazu and Eduardo Guttierrez - owners of an Astoria Boulevard building on which Marando performed repairs - and Astoria Federal Savings, the mortgage holder on the property.

Authorities contended that Marando fraudulently endorsed the checks with a fake Astoria Federal stamp, deposited the checks with his own bank - Community Bank of New York in Bayside - and then withdrew the funds.

Community Bank lost $194,000 when Astoria Federal refused to honor the checks, the DA's office said.

Following his arrest, Marando was ordered released on his own recognizance. But the contractor told the New York Post that the charges, although now dropped, have ruined his professional life and caused him extreme mental anguish.

Reach Reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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