In the latest case of Sandy related fraud, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has charged four more people with filing false applications for relief funds.

The Attorney General’s Office and its state and federal partners have charged four defendants during the past three months with filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy, bringing the total number of defendants charged by the office in these cases to 130 since March 2014.

Connian Scollon, 56, of Little Egg Harbor Township was charged on April 22, 2019 after she allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program.

She allegedly received a total of $167,831 in relief funds to which she was not entitled.

Scollon also allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a home she owns on East Shrewsbury Drive in Little Egg Harbor Township which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence at the time Sandy struck.

It is alleged that, in fact, Scollon's primary residence at the time of the storm was in Hatboro, Pennsylvania and the house in Little Egg Harbor Township was a secondary residence.

As a result of the alleged false applications, Scollon received a $10,000 RSP grant and $157,831 in RREM grant funds.

She is charged with second-degree theft by deception.

Robert Girardo, 68, of Ocean City, NJ, was charged June 26, 2019 after he allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program.

He allegedly received a total of $130,347 in relief funds to which he was not entitled.

Girardo also falsely claimed in his applications that a residential property that he owned on East West Jersey Avenue in Pleasantville, New Jersey which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck.

It is alleged that, in fact, his primary residence when the storm hit was in Ocean City and the property in Pleasantville was a rental property.

Girardo received a $10,000 RSP grant and $120,347 in RREM grant funds.

He is charged with second-degree theft by deception.

Rosemary Flannery, 58, of New York, N.Y., was charged on June 17, 2019 for allegedly filing fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program.

She allegedly received $124,151 in relief funds to which she was not entitled.

Flannery allegedly falsely claimed in her application that a property she owns on Central Avenue in Highlands, New Jersey which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence when Sandy struck.

It is alleged that, in fact, at the time of the storm, her primary residence was in Manhattan and the property in Highlands was a secondary residence.

Flannery received $2,270 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, and $111,881 in RREM grant funds.

She is charged with second-degree theft by deception.

Cynthia Hildebrandt, 59, of Wharton, New Jersey, was charged on May 9, 2019 for allegedly filing fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance, a low-interest SBA disaster-relief loan, and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP), the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, and the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP).

She allegedly received $80,358 in relief funds to which she was not entitled.

Hildebrandt allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a property she owns on Jennie Drive in Manahawkin which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence when Sandy struck.

At the time of the storm, her primary residence was in Wharton and the property in Manahawkin was a summer/weekend home.

Hildebrandt received $2,820 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, $14,000 in SBA loan proceeds, $50,681 in RREM grant funds, and $2,857 in SHRAP funds.

Hildebrandt is charged with second-degree theft by deception.

The 130 people charged overall by the Attorney General’s Office since 2014 are allegedly responsible for diverting nearly $9-million in relief funds.

The defendants are alleged, in most cases, to have filed fraudulent applications for relief funds offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In many cases, they also applied for funds from a Sandy relief program funded by HUD, low-interest disaster loans from the SBA, or funds from HHS.

The HUD funds are administered in New Jersey by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and the HHS funds are administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

“Any fraud against public assistance programs is deplorable, but these thefts were especially egregious because they diverted funds intended for victims left homeless by one of the most devastating storms in New Jersey history,” Attorney General Grewal said. “We have recovered over $4-million through these prosecutions and we also have sent a strong message that should deter this type of fraud during future disaster relief efforts.”

The new cases were investigated by detectives of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and special agents and inspectors of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, HUD Office of Inspector General, SBA Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted.

Deputy Attorneys General Supriya Prasad, Peter Gallagher, and William N. Conlow are prosecuting the new defendants for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa and Bureau Chief Julia S. Glass.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Defense Attorneys:

For Scollon: W. Curtis Dowell, Esq., Brant Beach, N.J.
For Girardo: Undetermined.
For Flannery: Charles F. Clark Jr., Esq., Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, Wall Township, N.J.
For Hildebrandt: A. Peter DeMarco Jr., Esq., DeMarco & Gagliano Law, Somerville, N.J.

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