Man Targeted Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses; DA Sini Urges Other Victims to Come Forward.
Central Islip, NY - March 28, 2018 - Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the arrest of a Brooklyn man who scammed approximately 30 businesses in Suffolk County into paying for fake fire extinguisher inspections.
“This individual was preying on small business owners who were trying to do the right thing and protect the safety of their employees,” District Attorney Sini said. “This is not just a matter of bringing a scam artist to justice; it is a matter of ensuring that our small businesses are safe and in compliance with fire safety laws.”
Michael Castellano, 51, of Brooklyn, was arraigned in Suffolk County Court on charges of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, an E felony; Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, an E felony; and Petit Larceny, an A misdemeanor. Bail was set at $5,000 cash or $20,000 bond.
A fake Liberty Fire Extinguisher Sales Co. certificate of inspection. Photo Credit: SCPD
Castellano fraudulently collected money from business owners for fire extinguisher inspections and falsified certificates of inspection under the business name Liberty Fire Extinguisher Sales Co. from as early as August 2017. He charged businesses $20 per fire extinguisher and replaced the inspection tags without servicing the equipment. He collected approximately $1,050 from businesses located across Suffolk County.
Castellano targeted small businesses owned by immigrants, many of whom speak English as a second language. District Attorney Sini urged business owners to check their fire extinguishers for inspection tags issued by Liberty Fire Extinguisher Sales Co.
“If you are a business owner in Suffolk County and you were a victim of Mr. Castellano’s scam, please contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at 631-853-5602 or via email at InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov,” District Attorney Sini said.
Castellano was arrested by Suffolk County Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Squad on March 26. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County and is due back in court on March 30.
The case is being investigated by the District Attorney’s Office with assistance from the Suffolk County Fire Marshal's Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward, of the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau.