A former police officer has been sentenced to prison for his role in stealing $187,000 in federal Superstorm Sandy relief funds to repair a vacation home on the New Jersey shore.
The Asbury Park Press reports 45-year-old Nikola Lulaj was sentenced to five years in prison Monday after his conviction in October on second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification charges.
Officials say the former Hoboken officer and his wife, Majlinda, falsely claimed their home on Webster Avenue in Seaside Heights was their primary residence when the storm hit in October 2012.
They filed fraudulent applications for FEMA assistance, a low-interest SBA disaster-relief loan, and state grants, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say the couple lived in Dumont at the time and later moved to the Seaside Heights home.
Majlinda Lulaj will avoid prison time and serve three years of probation after completing 50 hours of community service.
“For a police officer to commit this type of fraud is particularly egregious, because officers take an oath to uphold the law and we rightly hold them to the highest standards,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said after the October trial. “When disaster strikes, we cannot allow dishonest applicants to divert disaster relief funds from the intended recipients – namely, those victims whose primary homes were destroyed or damaged.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.