A Nutley woman has been charged criminally by the state for allegedly filing fraudulent applications for relief funds to repair a Jersey Shore property in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, N.J. Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced last week.
The defendant, Sandra L. Elliott, 44, reportedly obtained a total of $93,055 — a $10,000 Homeowner Resettlement Program grant and $83,055 under the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program.
According to the charges, Elliott falsely claimed that a storm-damaged property she co-owns with her parents in Brick was her primary residence at the time Sandy hit. In reality, authorities said, her primary residence was in Nutley and the Brick property was a vacation home.
In addition, Hoffman’s office said, Elliott allegedly submitted fraudulent rent receipts that falsely indicated she had leased her Nutley home to a renter prior to the storm. Elliott also applied for a low-interest U.S. Small Business Administration disasterrelief loan, but that application was rejected, Hoffman’s office said.
Elliott was charged Dec. 8 by complaint-summons with second-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification. The theft charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000; the falsification charge, up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Since March 2014, the AG’s Office has filed criminal charges against 45 people for allegedly engaging in relief funds fraud related to the October 2012 storm.
“These individuals are alleged to have callously stolen Sandy relief funds, diverting aid from deserving recipients and forcing administrators to police this fraud instead of working exclusively to assist those hardest hit by the storm,” Hoffman stated in a press release.
“At a time when so many stepped up to help others,” he said, “these defendants are alleged to have crookedly helped themselves.”
– Karen Zautyk