Florida builder accused in Ocean County of bilking Sandy victims
A Florida-based construction company operator faces theft charges in Ocean County, for allegedly taking more than $75,000 from seven home owners who thought his company would repair their Superstorm-damaged dwellings.
Richard Woodard, 63, part owner of Willwood Builders of Clearwater, was arrested in Dunedin, Florida on September 21 by officers of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department, according to the office of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, who began proceedings to extradite him to New Jersey.
The charges surface on the same day that the New Jersey Attorney General's office announced similar counts against a Manahawkin contractor, and a Toms River motel owner admitted collecting tens of thousands in FEMA subsidies under false pretenses.
Woodard was highlighted in a probe of Sandy contractor fraud that appeared in New Jersey Advance Media in March.
Investigators in the Prosecutor's Economic Crimes Unit allege that Woodard and his company collected payments in the forms of insurance payouts, personal savings, and grants through the New Jersey Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) programs, without finishing any projects.
Woodard is charged with theft by failure to make required disposition. His bail was set at $150,000, with no option for release on payment of 10 percent.
Investigators are looking into whether any other home owners experienced problems with Willwood Builders, and encourage response to Detective Lindsay Llauget, 732-929-2027, extension 3462.
Woodard's attorney was previously identified as Anthony Sodano, Esq., of West Orange.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.