Couple pleads guilty to stealing Sandy relief funds

Downed power lines and a battered road is what superstorm Sandy left behind as people walk off the flooded Seaside Heights island, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Downed power lines and a battered road is what superstorm Sandy left behind as people walk off the flooded Seaside Heights island, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A North Jersey couple has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $153,000 by filing fraudulent applications for Superstorm Sandy relief funds, authorities say.

Carmine Fusco, 50, and Lauri Fusco, 50, of East Hanover in Morris County each pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.

Prosecutors say the Fuscos allegedly falsely claimed in their applications for FEMA assistance and a state grant that their storm-damaged home on West End Drive in Point Pleasant was their primary residence when Sandy struck.

That allowed them to receive $2,280 from FEMA and $150,000 in state Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation grants, Grewal said.

Prosecutors will recommend that Carmine Fusco be sentenced to 180 days in county jail and a term of probation, and that Lauri Fusco be sentenced to a term of probation.

The couple must pay full restitution, authorities said.

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