MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – An unlicensed contractor from Lynbrook, Long Island was in court Thursday on charges he defrauded victims of superstorm Sandy.

Rodrigo Leiton, 51, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from four Nassau County homeowners, prosecutors announced.

He was charged with several counts of grand larceny, scheme to defraud and operating a home improvement business without a license.

As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, Leiton, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, complained to the judge that he doesn’t have money for bail and that his house in under contract and needs to be cleaned out.

The judge refused to lower Leiton’s $5,000 bail amount.

According to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, three of the homeowners hired Leiton to repair damage sustained in the Oct. 2012 storm. The fourth sought repair work for damage sustained in a different storm.

But instead, prosecutors allege, Leiton cashed checked totaling more than $9,000 from the homeowners without doing any work.

“The homeowners in this case were victimized twice – first by Superstorm Sandy, then by a defendant charged with making promises he never intended, or was licensed, to keep,” DA Rice said. “My office will continue to work with the Office of Consumer Affairs to find any other unlicensed contractors preying on homeowners struggling to recover from this historic storm and prosecute them with the full force of the law.”

Prosecutors said Leiton promised to fix roofs and repair interiors damaged in flooding from Sandy but instead took the money and was never seen again by the homeowners.

If convicted of the top charge, Leiton faces a maximum of 2.3 to seven years in prison.

Anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by Leiton or his company, R & A Home Improvements, Inc., should contact the DA’s Complaints Bureau at 516-571-3505.

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