Superstorm Con Man Sentenced to Five Years
The Metuchen 33-year-old who admitted conning Superstorm Sandy victims and others out of some $55,000 for housing and cars he never delivered heads to prison for as many as five years.
David Scott Ruddy was sentenced in a Trenton courtroom today, according to information from the office of acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman. He pleaded guilty to a third-degree charge of theft by deception on October 8.
The same day, Ruddy pleaded guilty to a theft-by-deception count filed by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office relating to four other victims who were defrauded before the Superstorm,
Documents filed in that case say that Ruddy borrowed a car from one victim and $25,000 from another, making good on neither; and also taking $6,800 from two others who thought that he was a bail bondsman promising to spring their children from jail.
As part of his plea bargan, Ruddy's required to pay restitution to the victims, each of whom handed him anywhere from $1,000 to $9,000. He's been incarcerated in the Middlesex County Jail since his arrest last January 26, held in connection with fugitive warrants for criminal charges filed in Georgia.
Investigators said that Ruddy engaged people in temporary shelters organized in Middlesex County in the days after the Superstorm, impersonating a Red Cross worker, member of the Attorney General's office or a law-enforcement officer and purporting to offer help. They contend that he also used aliases including David Castro and David Gartman.
The shelters were set up at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and in Old Bridge. He is said to have met six of them in the aftermath of the storm, three more through the victims he fleeced there, and the remaining four by other means.
Ruddy, according to details uncovered in the probe, would offer to rent or sell low-cost apartments, condos, houses and cars that he claimed to own or control, collecting in advance.
Investigators said Ruddy kept contact with some of them after they left the shelters to try conning them again, bringing victims to a rented office in Woodbridge to sign worthless contracts.
Authorities said Ruddy victimized seven people who needed housing or cars as a result of the storm, and five who needed them for other reasons. A final victim needed furniture.
"Ruddy's actions in defrauding homeless storm victims were utterly despicable," said Hoffman in a prepared statement. "He gained the trust of his victims by posing as a rescue worker, only to steal their money and leave them in an even more desperate state. This prison sentence serves as a warning to any other predators who would consider exploiting disaster victims."
Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice added that the Sandy Fraud Task Force was created to zero in on profiteers, combining "the resources of numerous agencies to protect the people of New Jersey from dishonest operators as they strive to rebuild their lives."