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Bogus Sandy Charity Shutting Down in Settlement with NJ

The couple accused of collecting about $631,000 intended for Superstorm Sandy relief, and keeping most of it, will let an administrator distribute the remaining donations and dissolve the enterprise.

A settlement by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and Division of Consumer Affairs effectively ends the probe of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation organzied by John Sandberg and Christina Terracino. They’re barred from running any charity related to Sandy, and from serving in any leadership role with any charity for no less than two years.

Under the agreement, HSRF ceases soliciting donations in New Jersey, including all of its internet sites, which state authorities estimate to be in the dozens.

The Sparta couple was charged back in February for violations of New Jersey’s Charitable Registration and Investigations Act, charity regulations and the Consumer Fraud Act. Officials claimed that they had not registered as a charity nor had received 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Investigators determined that they had distributed about $1,650 against donations of about $631,000 from nearly two-thousand people.

Within a week, they were ordered to stop seeking contributions and to place all collections into an escrow account, including $13,596.53 that they were accused of placing in their personal bank accounts. Donated supplies and gift cards were given to the Salvation Army.

State officials, using information supplied by Sandberg and Terracino, estimate that about $334,000 will be available for distribution.

The settlement sets aside $79,195.18 for New Jersey’s attorney fees and investigative expenses, to be suspended and vacated after four years if Sandberg and Terracino remain in compliance with terms, but recallable if not.

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