Lodi Woman Among Five People Accused of Filing Fake Sandy Relief Funds Applications

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the Attorney General’s Office and its state and federal partners have charged five new defendants 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 109 since March 2014.
 
“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,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We have recovered over $2 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 109 people charged by the Attorney General’s Office were allegedly responsible for diverting over $6 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.
 
The following five defendants were charged over the past two days by complaint-summons:
 
David Silva, 64, of Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J., allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance 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).  As a result, he allegedly received approximately $177,225 in relief funds to which he was not entitled.  Silva allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on South Spinnaker Drive in Little Egg Harbor Township, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck. It is alleged that, in fact, at the time of the storm, his primary residence was in Edison, and the home in Little Egg Harbor Township was a vacation/seasonal property.  As a result of the alleged false applications, Silva received $5,090 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, RREM grant funds totaling $150,000, and $12,135 in SHRAP funds.  Silva is charged with second-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
 
Appolonia DiPiazza, 53, of Lodi, allegedly filed 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.  As a result, she received a total of approximately $125,159 in relief funds.  It is alleged that DiPiazza falsely claimed in her applications that a home she owns on East Mohawk Avenue in Little Egg Harbor Township, N.J., which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence at the time Sandy struck. It is alleged that, in fact, her primary residence at the time of the storm was in Lodi, and the home in Little Egg Harbor Township was a summer/weekend property.  As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, DiPiazza received $2,270 from FEMA, $112,889 in RREM grant funds, and a $10,000 RSP grant.  DiPiazza is charged with second-degree theft by deception.
 
Wayne DesRosiers, 72, of Roseland, allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP).  As a result, he allegedly received approximately $47,787 in relief funds to which he was not entitled.  DesRosiers allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on Newark Avenue in Lavalette, N.J., which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck. It is alleged that, in fact, his primary residence at the time of the storm was in Roseland, and the home in Lavalette was a vacation/seasonal property.  As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, DesRosiers received $31,900 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, and $5,887 in SHRAP funds.  DesRosiers is charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
 
Joseph Ponsoda, 33, of Belle Mead, N.J., allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP).  As a result, he allegedly received approximately $26,992 in relief funds to which he was not entitled.  Ponsoda allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on Pershing Boulevard in Lavalette, N.J., which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck. It is alleged that, in fact, his primary residence at the time of the storm was in Belle Mead, and the home in Lavalette was a vacation/seasonal property.  As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Ponsoda received $2,820 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, and $14,172 in SHRAP funds.  He is charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
 
Nancy Nocera, 60, of Brielle, N.J., allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and a state grant under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP).  As a result, she allegedly received approximately $12,270 in relief funds to which she was not entitled.  Nocera allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a home she owns on Chester Avenue in Brielle, 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 Staten Island, N.Y., and the home in Brielle was a rental home occupied by a tenant.  As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Nocera received $2,270 from FEMA and a $10,000 RSP grant.  Nocera is charged with third-degree theft by deception.
 
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to$150,000.  Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. 

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.