Two Ocean County homeowners allegedly filed fraudulent applications for Superstorm Sandy relief funds, claiming that their vacation homes were primary residences, New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced.
Vincent (Ajit) Agnihotri, 60, of Franklin Lakes and Donald Keany, 55, of Monroe Township were charged in connection with applications filed for vacation homes in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River and Little Egg Harbor, respectively.
“It’s shameful that dishonest people fraudulently exploit disaster relief programs for their selfish benefit, when these programs are intended to help those most devastated by the storm,” said Hoffman. “This type of opportunism is unconscionable, and we will continue to file criminal charges against any individuals who attempt it.”
Agnihotri allegedly filed fraudulent applications for a FEMA grant and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, Hoffman said.
He received $116,900, including $31,900, the maximum amount provided by FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, and a $75,000 RREM grant, according to Hoffman.
Agnihotri is charged with second-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
Keany allegedly filed fraudulent applications for a FEMA grant and a state RSP grant, according to Hoffman.
He received $12,820, including $2,820 in FEMA rental assistance and $10,000 from the RSP program.
Keany is charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000.
“We now have charged 16 defendants with engaging in this type of fraud against Sandy relief programs, and we’re continuing to investigate these matters with our state and federal partners,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These offenders not only drain funds away from deserving victims, they drain the time and resources of relief administrators and law enforcement personnel who must detect their crimes and prosecute them.”