N.J. charges 4 secondary homeowners with Sandy fraud

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)

New Jersey authorities announced Wednesday criminal charges against four more people for allegedly filing fraudulent federal Superstorm Sandy relief fund applications.

State authorities have charged 125 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud since March 2014.

[Related: Jury convicts cop, wife for Superstorm Sandy fraud]

Those most recently charged include Carmine Fusco, 50, and Lauri Fusco, 50, of East Hanover; Shawn T. Conlon, 39, of Brick; and Zakir Hossain, 47, of Atlantic City. All are New Jersey residents.

The secondary homes are located in Point Pleasant, Brick, and Atlantic City.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal says these alleged thefts were especially egregious because they diverted funds intended for victims left homeless. “We have recovered well over $2 million through these prosecutions and we also have sent a strong message that should deter this type of fraud during future disaster relief efforts, said Grewal.

The state says that the four allegedly filed applications for relief funds that they were not entitled to because the damaged homes were not their primary residences when the storm struck.

Veronica Allende, director of the state’s Division of Criminal Justice, said the storm relief funds are meant to go actual victims who needed to rebuild their primary homes.  “We also have charged a number of renters who falsely claimed they were displaced by the storm or lost personal property,” she said.

The Fuscos and Conlon were accused of second-degree theft by deception, and Hossain was charged with third-degree theft by deception, authorities said. All were charged by complaint-summons.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Click here to read the allegations against each defendant.

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