Little Egg Harbor couple indicted for Superstorm relief fund theft
A Little Egg Harbor couple, accused of lavishing themselves with more than $700,000 from Superstorm Sandy victims for home repairs that were never completed, now face possible trial for theft, money laundering, tax fraud and a rash of other charges.
A state grand jury returned a multiple-count indictment for Jeffrey Colmyer, 41; Tiffany Cimino, 33; Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC; and Colmyer & Sons, LLC, according to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.
They were arrested October 11, 2016, following a probe that encompassed the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau, Division of Taxation, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
State investigators allege that the money allegedly taken by Colmyer and Cimino for home repairs, reconstruction and elevation, instead paid for a $17,000 diamond ring, hundreds of thousands for gambling at seven Atlantic City casinos, and other personal expenses.
Authorities also accuse the pair of falsifying data about Colmyer's interest in Rayne Construction in order to secure Home Elevation Contractor Registration through DCA, claiming less than 10 percent ownership, to avoid disclosing two previous theft convictions.
Most of the payments stemmed from the state's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, consisting of HUD funds administered by DCA. Porrino called the case the "most egregious" of all the Sandy fraud cases that his office has pursued.
Colmyer, Cimino and their firms face second-degree counts of conspiracy, theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, misconduct by a corporate official, two second-degree charges of money laundering, and third-degree charges of structuring and public-records tampering. They are also charged with third-degree counts filing a fraudulent tax return, failure to file tax returns, and failure to pay taxes.
Convictions for second-degree charges can mean prison terms of five to 10 years and fines up to $150,000. Third-degree offenses carry possible three-to-five-year prison terms and fines up to $15,000. According to the Attorney General's office, the money laundering and structuring charges carry sentences consecutive to those for theft, and potentially mean additional respective penalties of $250,000 and $75,000.
DCA concluded its civil action against Colmyer and Cimino in the time since the arrests, and released $776,000 in federal relief money to RREM subscribers who claimed to have been victimized.
"Financial fraud doesn't get much more loathsome than this," said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. "These defendants compounded the predicament of victims who were among the hardest hit by the storm, pulling the safety net out from under them."
Mercer County Judge Mary Jacobson assigned the case to Ocean County, where the pair will be expected to appear for arraignment.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.