Search for Superstorm ripoff suspect goes national
A contractor accused of conning Superstorm victims out of their money becomes a full-fledged fugitive from justice. The search for Jamie Lynn Lawson has gone nationwide.
New information from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office reveals that Lawson, 42, entered fugitive classification on December 14, 2016. Investigators believe that he has traveled through at least nine states in the South and Midwest since that time.
The original indictment in Ocean County Superior Court included charges related to 14 contractor fraud victims, believed to have handed approximately $480,000 to Lawson.
County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato is superseding the indictment to include 34 victims in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, with losses totalling $1,500,000. In each case, he's accused of performing scant, or no, work on the houses, while spending the money on vehicles and personal expenses.
Local investigators, so far, believe that Lawson has taken himself far from Ocean County, and have spread a dragnet through at least 22 cities and towns, including:
- Texas: Austin, Dallas, Addison, Denton, Irving, Houston, Port Lavaca
- North Carolina: Rowland, Fairmount, Lumberton
- South Carolina: Bishopville
- Tennessee: Greenville
- Georgia: Siloam
- Alabama: Livingston
- Missouri: St. Louis
- Oklahoma: Tulsa, Quapaw
- Mississippi: Mendenhall, Brandon, Florence, Jackson, Magee
Coronato's office said that Lawson obtained registration as a home improvement contractor from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs after arriving in the state in the aftermath of the Superstorm.
The approval was granted based on "...material misrepresentations on the application including his failure to disclose his prior criminal convictions," authorities said.
In the original indictment, Lawson is charged with second-degree counts of money laundering in an amount exceeding $75,000; six second-degree, and nine third-degree, counts of theft by failure to make required disposition, with thresholds above and below $75,000; a third-degree charge of public records tampering through a false contractor application; and a fourth-degree charge of unregistered home contracting.
The presiding judge attached $150,000 bail to the indictment, and stipulations for Lawson to turn in his passport and refrain from entering home repair and building contracts.
Also involved in the probe are the Brick and Toms River Police Departments, Ocean County and New Jersey Consumer Affairs, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Anyone familiar with Lawson's travel patterns or his whereabouts is urged to contact Sergeant Mike Malinowski, Ocean County Prosecutor's Economic Crime Unit, 732-929-2027, ext. 4032, or to e-mail the U.S. Marshals Service.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.