SEAFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – He is accused of a crime that almost everyone would consider heartless and cruel.
It’s alleged a Long Island man engaged in a vicious scheme to bilk the elderly out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for never-completed home repairs, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.
When asked how much money they forked over, Walter Flattau told McLogan exclusively, “At first we paid him by check, and then after a while he wanted cash.”
“And now it’s around $200,000. I don’t know how it grew that way,” Seymour Flattau added.
Police said the 89-year-old Flattau twins of Seaford were bilked out of much of their life savings by an alleged fake contractor, 26-year-old Robert Cohan of East Rockaway.
“At first glance, when he showed up, he was very nice, very polite,” Walter Flattau said.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Cohan was a pro at sweet-talking the elderly into handing over large amounts of cash — up front — for needed home repairs. He was arrested in Woodmere, where he was accused of conning a 78-year-old homeowner out of $78,000 to fix her driveway.
“I implore people — if someone knocks on your door and offers to do work for you, that is certainly a red flag,” Nassau County Police Inspector Kenneth Lack said.
Police were alerted to the alleged scheme by the Flattau brothers.
“I went outside and I took a picture of his truck, and the license plate number. I was getting a little suspicious,” Seymour Flattau said.
“We feel victimized for sure,” Walter Flattau added.
But Cohan’s defense attorney said his client is a family man, with no prior arrests, and has the support of relatives.
“We will try to resolve the case and see if his family can somehow make restitution for what has happened,” defense attorney Edward Jenks said.
“Our nephews and nieces, the people that we would ordinarily leave the money to, will get that much less when we pass on, so in that sense it hurts a lot,” Walter Flattau said.
The district attorney said she fears that Cohan could have been targeting the elderly for years and is urged any additional possible victims — or their families — to contact Nassau police.
Cohan was scheduled for another date in court Thursday.
He faces 15 years in prison.
He claims he did complete many of the repairs.
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