4 more charged with Sandy fraud

Image courtesy of the New Jersey Office of Attorney General.

Image courtesy of the New Jersey Office of Attorney General.

New Jersey authorities announced Wednesday criminal charges against four more people for allegedly filing fraudulent federal Superstorm Sandy relief fund applications.

State authorities have charged 116 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud since March 2014.

Those most recently charged include Brian J. Kotowich, 57, of Beach Haven; Charles Licastro, 64, Pine Brook; Anthony Novello, 63, of Forked River; and Thomas Aquilino, 56, of Yonkers, New York.

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.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

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.  “While many generously helped others after the storm, these property owners allegedly helped themselves,” she said.

All were accused of second-degree theft by deception through a complaint-summons, authorities said. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Click here to read the allegations against each defendant.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal