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Woman admits stealing FEMA benefits through fraud

A southern New Jersey woman has admitted stealing about $40,000 in benefit money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after major storms hit the state in recent years.

Federal prosecutors say 47-year-old Sara Cengiz of Brick falsely claimed she needed the funds for housing. She pleaded guilty Friday to a disaster benefits fraud charge.

Prosecutors say Cengiz sought benefits in April 2010 and August 2011, seeking federal rental assistance and aid for personal property damage in both instances. Each time, prosecutors say Cengiz falsely claimed she had to rent another residence because her home was damaged by severe storms.

Cengiz faces up to 30 years in prison when she’s sentenced in March. She also will have to pay restitution.

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