Aug. 14, 2013 By Christian Murray
An Astoria landlord, who allegedly ripped off more than 20 prospective tenants by taking their deposits and first-month’s rent—before putting off their move-in-dates and keeping the money, was charged yesterday.
Mario Lalicata (a/k/a Mario Lamagra), 54, of 25-55 48th Street, was arraigned last night on a 22-count criminal complaint charging him with counts of grand larceny and fraud. According to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, Lalicata defrauded 21 prospective tenants out of $17,000 in rent and deposits.
Lalicata allegedly used craigslist to find tenants for a basement apartment that was part of his home. Between March 23, 2013, and August 13, 2013, Lalicata took security deposits ranging from $500 to $2,000 from tenants and, in two instances, also collected the first-month’s rent.
As the tenants’ move-in dates approached, Lalicata allegedly postponed the moves by making up various excuses, such as the apartment was not ready or that the electricity was not working.
When the tenants grew tired of the excuses and asked for their money back, Lalicata allegedly either promised to return the money or said that he had used the money for repairs before he eventually stopped taking or returning their calls.
Lalicata faces up to four years in prison if convicted.