New Jersey authorities announced Thursday criminal charges against four more people for allegedly filing fraudulent federal Superstorm Sandy relief fund applications.
State authorities have charged 120 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud since March 2014.
Those most recently charged include New Jersey residents Rhea Jolly, 61, of Toms River; Ralph Lubosco, 66, and Eileen Lubosco, 67, of Cream Ridge; and Peter Raia Jr., 51, of Lodi.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal says these thefts were “especially egregious” because they diverted funds intended for victims left homeless. “We have recovered over $2.2 million through these prosecutions and we also have sent a strong message that should deter this type of fraud during future disaster relief efforts.” said Grewal.
The state says that the four filed applications for relief funds that they were not entitled to because the damaged homes were not their primary residences when the storm struck.
Veronica Allende, director of the state’s Division of Criminal Justice, said the storm relief funds are meant to go actual victims who needed to rebuild their primary homes. “This collaborative state and federal initiative will undoubtedly serve as a model for other jurisdictions that face these issues in future disaster relief efforts,” she said.
Authorities say the charges include second-degree theft by deception for Jolly and the Luboscos and third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification for Raia. All were charged Wednesday by complaint-summons.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Click here to read the allegations against each defendant.