State authorities have charged 96 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud since March 2014.
The state alleges that, in most cases, the charged individuals have filed fraudulent applications for relief funds offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and in some cases, also applied for funds from a Sandy relief program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or low-interest disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.
“We charge that these defendants stole from disaster relief programs and by extension from the victims who were hardest hit by the storm,” said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “We’ll continue to charge every cheat we identify who diverted funds from these recovery programs and from victims in need.”
Those most recently charged include Edward Barlotta, 65, of Cape Coral, Florida; Thomas Dooney, 65, of Ramsey; Walter G. Ribeiro, Jr., 63, of Deptford; Joan Galetta, 74, of Sayreville; and Linda Petersack-Kunz, 56, of Ewing.
Authorities allege that the damaged homes in Long Branch, Brick, Ventnor, Seaside Park, and Manahawkin, respectively, were not primary residences.
All were charged through a complaint-summons, authorities said.
[Click here to read the allegations against each defendant.]
“Stealing any type of public aid is reprehensible, but it’s especially egregious to steal relief funds in the context of a historic disaster, when every dollar is needed for recovery,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to pursue these prosecutions with our state and federal partners, so we can guard these funds and deter this type of criminal conduct in future emergencies.”