Woman Pleads Guilty to Claiming to Be Sandy Victim for Free Hotel Rooms

Authorities said she spent nearly nine months living in hotels after claiming to be left homeless by the storm

A woman who falsely portrayed herself as a Sandy victim to get free hotel rooms and relief aid has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday that Caterina Curatolo has been ordered to pay over $87,000 in restitution to New York City and the American Red Cross.

The Queens woman received a three-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to falsifying business records.

Judge Gene Lopez said at the woman's sentencing hearing Thursday that Curatolo "exploited the system designed to help people severely damaged by the storm."

"It's despicable and you should be ashamed of yourself," Lopez told Curatolo.

In a series of aid applications and interviews, Curatolo said her house had been had been struck by lightning four times and ruined by flooding during the October 2012 storm. She lived in hotels on taxpayers' dime for more than 269 days.

Investigators determined it had been in a state of severe disrepair for years - to the point of drawing neighbors' complaints. 

An attorney for Curatolo said that it was hard for Curatolo to admit guilt because she didn't think she did anything wrong. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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