May 5, 2014
Unlicensed Contractor Sentenced to
Jail and More Than $1 Million in Restitution for
Repair and Tax Scams
Victims included seniors who paid
for driveway repairs that were never performed;
Also sentenced for defrauding New York State of taxes
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the jail and restitution sentencing today of an unlicensed East Rockaway contractor in scams that cheated clients – mostly seniors – out of more than $300,000 in payments, and deprived the State of New York of more than $790,000 in taxes.
Robert Cohan, 27, was sentenced before Nassau County Court Judge Tammy Robbins to 1 to 3 years in prison, and a civil judgment of $1,111,980.08, which includes restitution to his victims and more than $790,000 in unremitted sales tax and unpaid income tax to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Cohan pleaded guilty in January 2014 to three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony), two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony), two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (an E felony), one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree (an E felony), and one count of Tax Fraud in the Fifth Degree (an A misdemeanor).
“Whether it was elderly homeowners or every taxpayer of New York State, this defendant tried to cheat his victims out of more than a million dollars in a brazen disregard for the law,” DA Rice said. “Tax crimes often follow other financial crimes, and my office will continue to work with our partners in state government to hold consumer and tax cheats accountable.”
“I applaud District Attorney Rice for her aggressive prosecution of this case,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. “On behalf of honest business owners and taxpayers statewide, we will continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to bring tax evaders to justice.”
DA Rice said that in July 2012, Cohan approached a 73-year-old woman living in Woodmere, informed her that he owned a driveway company, and offered to repair her damaged driveway for $78,600. He said he would need the cash up front, but that he would be able to get the victim a rebate from New York State for $88,600, netting her a brand new driveway and a $10,000 profit.
The victim agreed, and also agreed to pay Cohan $1,500 to paint her deck and repair cracks in her home’s foundation. Cohan promised to pay her the rebate funds by September 7, 2012. There was no written contract, only a handwritten receipt from Cohan that the victim would receive the rebate. Between July and September 2012, the victim gave Cohan 43 checks totaling $67,490 and $10,400 in cash.
Cohan did paint the victim’s deck and repair some of the cracks in the home’s foundation, but no work was ever performed on the driveway. When the victim complained that no work had been done and that she had not received the promised rebate, Cohan made repeated excuses as to why he had not been able to pay her the money.
The victim eventually enlisted the assistance of her son, an attorney, to get the money from Cohan. Throughout January and February 2013, Cohan repeatedly promised to repay the money on numerous occasions, yet failed to do so every time. The victim filed a complaint with DA Rice’s office shortly thereafter. Prosecutors worked closely with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, which had also commenced its own investigation of Cohan.
Other victims were similarly defrauded with contracts for driveway work that was never done. Cohan was first arrested by the Nassau County Police Department’s Crimes Against Property Squad on June 1, 2013 on charges that he scammed two elderly brothers into giving him $118,000 for driveway repairs he never performed. He was subsequently arrested on July 9, 2013 by the Nassau County Police Department’s Crimes Against Property Squad and DA Investigators on additional charges.
In addition to the Nassau County Police Department and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs also assisted in the investigation.
Anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by Cohan or his company, All About Driveways, should contact DA Rice’s Complaints Bureau at 516-571-3505.
Assistant District Attorneys Edward Bradley and Vickie Curran of DA Rice’s Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau are prosecuting the case. Cohan is represented by Edward Jenks, Esq.