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Posted on: May 18, 2023

Hicksville Couple Arraigned on Charges of Stealing More Than $12,000 in COVID Relief Funds

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Michael Arbassio and Eileen Dantini allegedly fraudulently obtained rental assistance funds from Town of Oyster Bay program

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that a couple from Hicksville were arraigned yesterday for allegedly submitting fraudulent paperwork and obtaining more than $12,000 in rental assistance funds to which they were not entitled that were administered as part of a COVID relief program through the Town of Oyster Bay. 

Michael Arbassio, 65, and Eileen Dantini, 61, were arraigned before Judge Joseph Nocella on charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony) and six counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (an E felony). The defendants pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance. They are due back in court on May 23, 2023. If convicted of the top count, the defendants face up to 2 -1/3 to 7 years in prison.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, renters across Nassau County struggled to make payments, and needed government intervention to ease their hardship and ensure they could make ends meet,” said DA Donnelly. “The defendants took advantage of these programs, allegedly stealing more than $12,000 in rental assistance funds by submitting fraudulent paperwork claiming the couple were in a landlord-tenant agreement. NCDA will continue to protect precious public resources for residents who need them most and ensure individuals who take advantage of these programs are prosecuted.”

DA Donnelly said, according to the charges, Arbassio and his long-term girlfriend, Dantini, were tenants in a Hicksville home for approximately 10 years and paid monthly rent to a landlord.

It is alleged that on September 29, 2021, defendant Arbassio electronically submitted a Tenant Application to the Oyster Bay Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERAP”), listing the Hicksville address, his email address, and cell phone number. ERAP used federal funds to assist residents of the Town of Oyster Bay who experienced pandemic-related housing difficulties. The program was administered on behalf of the Town of Oyster Bay by the Long Island Housing Partnership (LIHP).

Arbassio allegedly stated on the ERAP application submitted to LIHP that Dantini was his landlord and that he was in arrears in rent to her.

Arbassio and Dantini also submitted additional fraudulent paperwork including a fraudulent lease agreement between Dantini and Arbassio, a Rental Arrears Affidavit allegedly signed by Dantini as landlord, and other documents. 

Between December 19, 2021, and January 19, 2022, Arbassio and Dantini allegedly received $12,800 in rental assistance funds through LIHP.

On April 4, 2022, Arbassio allegedly electronically submitted a second ERAP Tenant Application, providing the same information from the first application and stating that he was again in arrears to Dantini, including supplemental paperwork that was also allegedly fraudulent. 

ERAP conducted a search of Nassau County property records upon receipt of the application and discovered another individual owned the Hicksville property, not Dantini. As a result, ERAP asked Arbassio to submit proof that Dantini rented the property to him, which he failed to provide. ERAP deemed Arbassio ineligible for additional rental relief funds in July 2022.  

The Town of Oyster Bay and LIHP referred the case to NCDA in August 2022 after conducting an internal investigation and identifying the potentially fraudulent application. 

Arbassio and Dantini surrendered to NCDA Detective Investigators on May 17, 2023. 

Maureen McCormack, Chief of the Revenue, Auto, Insurance and Labor Bureau is prosecuting the case. Arbassio is represented by the Legal Aid Society. Dantini was represented at arraignment by Christopher Devane, Esq.

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.



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