Metuchen Man Admits Conning Sandy Victims Out of $55,000
A Metuchen 33-year-old will likely spend three to five years in a state prison for conning Superstorm Sandy victims out of about $55,000.
In a Middlesex County courtroom, David Scott Ruddy admitted promising low-cost housing or cars to 13 victims, taking the money in advance, and leaving them twisting in the wind.
Ruddy, also known as David Castro and David Gartmann, pleaded guilty to a third-degree charge of theft by deception, according to information from the office of acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman. In addition to the prison time, he’s required to pay restitution to all known victims. His official sentencing date is November 18.
Ruddy had been incarcerated since his January 26 arrest. Hoffman’s office says he’s being held on a detainer related to fugitive warrants for criminal charges in Georgia.
Investigators from Woodbridge and Middlesex County determined that Ruddy posed as a Red Cross worker or law-enforcement officer, or a member of the Attorney General’s office, meeting six victims at temporary shelters at Rutgers New Brunswick and Old Bridge, three more through people he met in the shelters, and the remaining four in other venues.
Authorities say seven people needed living quarters or cars as a direct result of the storm, five sought cars for other reasons, and one needed furniture.
The probe revealed that Ruddy offered apartments, condos or houses that he claimed to own or control, and cars he claimed to have bought at police auctions. According to investigators, Ruddy collected anywhere from $1,000 to $9,000 from each.
Authorities say that Ruddy brought victims to an office he rented above a Woodbridge law firm, producing bogus contracts for homes or vehicles.
Ruddy also pleaded guilty to a theft-by-deception count filed by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, tied to four incidents prior to the storm.
Prosecutors contended that one victim lent a car to Ruddy and never received it back. Another claimed to have lent $25,000 to Ruddy that wasn’t repaid. Two others alleged that Ruddy took a total of $6,800 from them under the guise of being a bail bondsman who would secure their children’s releases from jail.
Under his plea deal, the prison sentences on each charge will run concurrently, but Ruddy will also be required to pay restitution to the four victims in the County filing.
“It is a sad reality that disasters bring out profiteers and con artists who want to enrich themselves by targeting those who are vulnerable,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our multi-agency Sandy fraud task force is continuing to investigate such criminals in order to protect New Jerseyans as they rebuild their lives and our state.”