5 more charged with Sandy relief fraud

     Images courtesy of the NJ Office of the Attorney General.

    Images courtesy of the NJ Office of the Attorney General.

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

    State authorities have charged 50 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.

    “Lying to collect any form of public assistance is inexcusable, but it is especially egregious in the context of a major disaster like Superstorm Sandy, when all available funds are needed for those who were hardest hit and who legitimately qualify for aid,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman in a release. “These offenders also burden relief administrators, who must allocate time and resources to police this fraud, rather than focusing entirely on helping those most in need.”

    Those most recently charged include Dennis Zawadzki, 63, of Clifton, NJ; Juli Schaber, 58, of Colonia, NJ; Daniela Cannizzo-Rybak, 36, of Little Falls, NJ; Nancy L. Fletcher, 54, of Ringwood, NJ; and Christopher Carlino, 51, of Staten Island, NY.

    All were charged through a summons, authorities said.

    [Click here to read the allegations against each defendant.]

    “We’re working diligently with our state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that every allegation of fraud involving these Sandy relief programs is thoroughly investigated,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our goal in these joint efforts is to recover the stolen funds and also to send a clear message that this type of fraud will be met with serious criminal charges, now and during any future disaster relief efforts.”

    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.