A Bayonne man was among four charged with filing false applications for Hurricane Sandy relief yesterday, announced Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Michael A. Vetter, 56, of Bayonne, was charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification after filing an application for FEMA rental assistance following Hurricane Sandy, claiming that he had been displaced from his primary residence in Little Egg Harbor Township, officials said.
In order to gain FEMA assistance, Vetter allegedly submitted fraudulent documents, which included a lease and “numerous rental receipts” for an apartment on John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Bayonne from November 2012 though January 2014, authorities said.
However, authorities allege that Vetter never actually rented the apartment, yet still benefited from $16,200 in federal rental assistance, according to the indictment.
Nabil Girgis, 65, of Toms River, Nicole Loryn Fiel, 34, of Brooklyn, NY, and Robert T. Bland, 41, whose last known address was in Highlands, NJ, were all charged with committing similar fraud schemes worth between $19,385 and $41,900, court documents show.
“We allege that these defendants selfishly and deviously stole from federal and state relief programs, diverting funds that are desperately needed for those whose primary homes were battered and left uninhabitable by Superstorm Sandy,” Hoffman said in a prepared statement.
“The harm caused by these thefts is compounded because relief administrators and supporting agencies must dedicate time and resources to pursue these cases, when they should be able to focus exclusively on those in need.”
In a written statement, state Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III echoed Hoffman’s sentiment on the situation.
“It is unconscionable that fraudsters are trying to steal federal assistance from eligible applicants impacted by Sandy, so we will remain vigilant in pursuit of those who seek to misuse our recovery programs.”
Vetter faces a maximum sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000 for the third-degree theft charge, while the fourth-degree unsworn falsification charge comes with a maximum sentence of 18 months in state prison and a $10,000 fine.