Ocean County couple bilked more than $900,000 in Sandy relief from homeowners, N.J. alleges

     Creative Commons image.

    Creative Commons image.

    An Ocean County couple that operates two home improvement contracting companies took more than $900,000 from Hurricane Sandy victims and failed to begin or complete work, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs alleges. 

    Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC and Colmyer and Sons Construction, LLC and its owners, Jeffrey Colmyer and Tiffany A. Cimino of Little Egg Harbor, took initial payments from consumers to repair or rebuild homes but failed to start working, performed work in a substandard fashion, and/or abandoned unfinished work “without returning for weeks, months, or at all,” according to the state’s complaint.

    26 homeowners allegedly lost $923,742 in federal relief funds, the state said. They were all recipients of state Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grants, New Jersey’s largest rebuilding initiative funded by federal money. 

    Ten additional homeowners also filed complaints in connection with home improvement work they hired the duo and their companies to perform.

    On its website, Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC claimed it was a “family owned” business, run by “experts at house raising” and a “company you can trust” for home building through its “sister company” Colmyer and Sons, according to a state release. 

    “We will continue to bring legal action against contractors who swindled consumers out of the grant money they desperately needed to rebuild their homes and move on with their lives after Superstorm Sandy,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We will not allow unscrupulous contractors to get away with re-victimizing homeowners as they struggled to get back on their feet.” 

    The complaint seeks consumer restitution, the return of RREM funds to the state, reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs, and civil penalties. The state also seeks to permanently revoke the home improvement, home elevation contractor registration, and new home builders registrations to the couple and prohibit the pair from owning or operating a home improvement business in the state. 

    “Dishonest contractors not only hinder Sandy-impacted families from rebuilding their homes, they also impede the state’s overall recovery effort,” said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Charles A. Richman. “We thank the Division of Consumer Affairs for diligently investigating Sandy contractor fraud claims and taking legal action against contractors when warranted. This important work shows the state is rooting out deceptive contractors and helping Sandy survivors get their rebuilding projects back on track.”

    The public can report consumer abuse by filing an online complaint or calling 1-800-242-5846.

    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.