5 more charged with Sandy fraud

     Images courtesy of the New Jersey Office of Attorney General.

    Images courtesy of the New Jersey Office of Attorney General.

    New Jersey authorities charged criminally last week five more people with filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy, state officials announced.

    State authorities have charged 76 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 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 Stephen Hewitt, 64, and his wife, Sharon Hewitt, 60, of Westville; Mary Eileen Adams, 63, of Glenmoore, PA; Janie Spataro, 52, of Beachwood;  and Lisa Drew, 45, of Camden.

    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.”

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

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.