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Groups Benefit from Illegal Sandy Charity

Two Jersey Shore non-profit groups have received some of the donations raised by the unregistered charity Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation, almost ten months after the state sued to shut it down, according to Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman (Office of the Attorney General)

O.C.E.A.N. Inc. of Toms River was given $100,000 to construct 12, three-bedroom, single-family homes in Berkeley Township. The homes will be rented to Sandy victims. Placements will be made based on O.C.E.A.N. Inc.’s waiting list for rental housing, as well as referrals from the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and Catholic Charities.

The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune received $50,000 to support its network of food pantries that provide food for thousands of Sandy-affected families.

Hoffman announced yesterday a total of $225,000 raised by HSRF will be shared among four charitable organizations registered with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and one charitable organization registered in New York State, specifically for the benefit of Sandy victims.

The Alliance Center for Independence of Edison, in partnership with South Carolina-based Portlight Strategies, Inc., received $50,000 for post-Sandy relief projects aiding people with disabilities. Graybeards, LTD. in Rockaway, New York, received $25,000 for donations to Sandy-affected individuals in and near the Rockaway Peninsula.

“In response to the suffering caused by Super storm Sandy, donors flocked to this organization (HSRF) in the hope that their money would help storm victims and repair damaged communities, Hoffman said. “Today, thanks to our investigation and enforcement action, were are ensuring that their charitable good intentions are being carried out.”

In June, 2013, the State settled a lawsuit against HSRF. A court-appointed Organization Administrator took control of the unauthorized charity’s financial accounts to distribute all the remaining donations and dissolve the organization. Under the court-approved settlement, John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino also are permanently barred from soliciting contributions in New Jersey for Super storm Relief and are barred for a minimum of two years from serving in a leadership position in any charitable organization in New Jersey.

“Today’s announcement is a victory for donors who gave generously to help families whose lives were torn apart by Super storm Sandy,” New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “As we demonstrated in bringing charges against those involved in price gouging and other scams in Sandy’s wake, we will not tolerate anyone who seeks to profit from the suffering of others.”

An additional $100,000 in HSRF donations is under final review for distribution in the near future.

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