Superstorm Sandy Contractors Plead Guilty to Theft in Ocean County, NJ
Two contractors from other states could spend years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from survivors of Superstorm Sandy in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties.
John Bishop, of Florida, and Paul Rueda, of Texas, pleaded guilty to theft by failure to make required disposition, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office announced on Tuesday.
Authorities say Bishop and Rueda formed John Paul Building, LLC, in November 2012, the month after Sandy made landfall in the Garden State. Six homeowners entered contracts with the LLC for home repairs and paid a total of more than $350,000. The homeowners received little to no work on their projects, and the company disbanded without any funds going back to the victims, an investigation uncovered.
After that, Rueda entered into agreements with four additional homeowners under his newly formed contracting business, receiving $363,575 for projects that would ultimately never be completed. Rueda used the funds for his own benefit, authorities say.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 15. A prison term of four years will be recommended for Bishop, and a five-year term will be recommended for Rueda.
As part of the plea agreements, Bishop has agreed to pay $178,425 in restitution to his victims; Rueda has agreed to pay $482,000.