Nine new defendants in ongoing Superstorm fund fraud probe
Two Ocean County residents, and a Toms River motel owner who lives in Edison, are among nine new arrestees, accused by New Jersey investigators with pirating federal Superstorm relief worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Charges filed August 18, announced today by state Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino's office, bring the total number of fraud defendants to 71 since March 2014.
They are charged, variously, with theft by deception in the second or third degree, and unsworn falsification in the fourth degree. Convictions could mean sentences ranging from 18 months to 10 years, plus tens of thousands in fines.
Each is accused of illegally applying for, and/or accepting, payouts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), and low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Sandipkumar Patel, 43, of Edison, owner of the American Motel on Route 166 in Toms River, allegedly billed FEMA for $81,567 in Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) funds for housing 11 displaced storm victims.
Investigators allege that the eight of them never stayed there, three stayed for shorter durations than were submitted, and two individuals sharing one room were billed to FEMA separately.
Patel is also accused of submitting the names of several relatives, unaffected by the storm, in seeking more than $50,000 from FEMA
Michael J. Casey, 51, of Point Pleasant, is accused of collecting a $10,000 Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) grant, and seeking $77,000 under the New Jersey Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program along with a $2,200 FEMA grant, neither of which was disbursed, for a run-down house on Parkway Avenue in the borough that he claimed as a primary residence.
Investigators contend that his primary residence is on Harvard Avenue, and that the dilapidated dwelling has no utility connections.
Authorities also contend that Casey submitted a lease and receipts indicating rent paid to his mother in New Brunswick, but allege that no money exchanged hands.
Judith McMahon, 47, of Manahawkin, allegedly collected $18,292 from FEMA by indicating a monthly expenditure of $1,500 for a leased property in Neavitt, Maryland. Investigators claim that she has rented the dwelling since 2010, and fabricated the landlord's identity and rental receipts. A second individual was charged July 13.
Jerry Gustoso, 44, of Hoboken, is accused of collecting $213,234 through FEMA aid, an SBA disaster loan, and state RSP and Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP) grants, citing a house on Cedar Run Road in Bayville as his primary residence. Investigators claim that it's a vacation home.
Debra Reddick, 58, of Newark; her sonThomas Jamar Reddick, 34, of Newark, and daughter Lateefah Reddick, 38, of East Orange; Debra Reddick's niece NeimaJones, 32, of East Orange; and a relative, Kevin Osborne, 55, of Newark, allegedly filed fraudulent aid claims.
Thomas Reddick is charged with collecting a $10,000 RSP grant and $4,232 from FEMA for a dwelling on North Fourth Street in the city, while actually living in Hillside.
The rest allegedly submitted bogus SHRAP claims. Investigators said that Debra Reddick collected $4,330; Lateefah Reddick received $7,629; Jones was given $6,556; and Osborne received $6,016.
The charges are merely accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
State investigators were not notified of legal representation for the McMahon, the Reddicks, Jones and Osborne. Gustoso is represented by Edward J. Dimone of Carluccio, Leone, Dimone, Doyle & Sacks, LLC. Casey is represented by Michael D. Schaller of King, Kitrick, Jackson & McWeeney, LLC. Patel is represented by Robert Stahl, who operates his own firm.