Little Egg Harbor couple plead guilty to Sandy fraud charges
An Ocean County couple pleads guilty to stealing nearly $1,500,000.00 from more than 20 people who hired their home improvement companies to fix their Superstorm Sandy damaged houses, according to the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.
The victims in this latest Sandy scam paid the couple to do the work but instead they allegedly used the money to go gambling in Atlantic City and buy luxury items such as a $17,000.00 diamond ring.
Most of the funds that were stolen came from the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, a Sandy relief program administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the NJ AG.
Jeffrey Colmyer, 42, and Tiffany Cimino, 34, of Little Egg Harbor are scheduled to be sentenced in September after pleading guilty to charges of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received.
Colmyer may face seven years in jail, while Cimino is looking at probation.
Colmyer also entered guilty pleas to second-degree money laundering on behalf the couple’s home improvement contracting companies, Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC (RCMS) and Colmyer & Sons, LLC.
The Attorney General’s Office, through the Division of Consumer Affairs and Division of Law, previously obtained a consent order in a lawsuit against the couple and their companies, under which the defendants must pay $695,402.00 in restitution to victims and $655,243.00 to the State of New Jersey as restitution for stolen Sandy relief funds.
It is a condition of the plea agreement that the defendants pay those sums, as well as an additional $104,000 in restitution to five more victims that have been identified, bringing total restitution to $1,454,645. Colmyer also must pay $56,472 to the State of New Jersey for back taxes that he failed to pay.
A joint investigation was conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General and the New Jersey Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation.
Those agencies were assisted by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, which previously investigated the matter and filed a civil action last year against the defendants, alleging numerous violations of the Consumer Fraud Act and seeking consumer restitution and civil penalties, among other things.
“Colmyer and Cimino heartlessly preyed on Sandy victims whose homes had been destroyed, stealing the relief funds that were the lifeline these victims needed to rebuild in the aftermath of the historic storm,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “By sending Colmyer to prison, we deliver a strong deterrent message that anyone willing to sink so low as to steal disaster relief money from victims will face a stern reckoning.”
Todd S. Wilson, Esq., Toms River, N.J. represents Colmyer while Louis Barbone, Esq., Jacobs & Barbone, PA, Atlantic City, N.J. represents Cimino.
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