Little Egg Harbor couple charged in million-dollar Sandy fraud probe
The Little Egg Harbor couple accused of collecting more than $1,000,000 from Superstorm Sandy victims for home repairs, and spending most of it on luxuries, face extensive charges filed by New Jersey investigators.
Jeffrey Colmyer, 41, and Tiffany Cimino, 43, are charged with second-degree counts of theft, money laundering, misconduct by a corporate official, and third-degree counts of failure to pay taxes and tax fraud, according to the office of Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.
Charges are also filed against their home improvement companies, Colmyer & Sons Construciton, LLC, and Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC. Investigators believe that more than 20 victims were left with homes in tatters.
Both were placed in the Ocean County Jail in Toms River on October 11, with bail for each set at $300,000.
Second-degree charges carry penalties, on conviction, of five to 10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000. Third-degree charges mean three to five years in prison and fines up to $15,000 on conviction.
Prosecutors said that the money laundering and structuring counts carry sentences consecutive to the theft charge, with potential additional penalties of $250,000 and $75,000, respectively.
New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Director Elie Honig said that state and federal agents have charged more than 70 defendants with fraud related to Superstorm Sandy, but "this case is the most egregious to date in terms of the dollars involved and harm inflicted on innocent victims."
Prosecutors contend that Colmyer and Cimino collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from property owners who expected their houses to be repaired, rebuilt, and/or elevated, then spent it on new cars, a $17,000 diamond ring and other jewelry, and gambling at seven Atlantic City Casinos.
Most of the money originated in New Jersey's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program.
According to investigators, they abandoned jobs for which they contracted, or never started work at all.
Colmyer and Cimino were named in an August civil action by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, alleging Consumer Fraud Act violations and seeking civil penalties and customer restitution.
The criminal charges culminate a probe that involves the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Dvelopment, Office of Inspector General, and New Jersey Division of Taxation.
Their companies are charged with theft, money laundering, structuring, and tampering with public records.
Investigators believe that previous convictions given to Colmyer prompted the couple to understate his ownership interest in Rayne Construction Management Services as being below 10 percent.
Ownership 10 percent or greater requires disclosure of convictions involving certain crimes. Colmyer had been found guilty of teft by failure to make required disposition of property, authorities said.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
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