A Monmouth Beach man, who had previously been the owner of a residential construction company, has been sentenced to two years probation after he pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from a client who had hired him to build a single-family home in Ocean Township, Monmouth County authorities reported on Thursday.
According to authorities, Mihkel Grunbaum, 49, was sentenced on Friday, November 4, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English.
Along with two years probation, Grunbaum was also ordered to pay $65,000 in restitution to the victim immediately.
Grunbaum pleaded guilty on February 25 to third-degree Theft of Movable Property following an investigation by detectives from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, officials say.
Officials reported the investigation revealed that Grunbaum, owner of his former business, Shore G.C. Group, L.L.C., entered into a contract with the victim in January 2018.
The contract specified that he was to build a single-family home on a piece of property the victim owned in Ocean Township. The agreement required that progress payments made to Grunbaum were only to be used in connection with the victim’s project.
Grunbaum used $65,000 for personal expenses and payments for other projects while abandoning the victim’s construction site, authorities say.
After the victim terminated the contract and hired another builder, Grunbaum refused to refund the victim’s money.
Officials say that the victim eventually reported the theft to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, and an investigation began.
According to officials, a review of the defendant’s bank records and interviews with subcontractors and suppliers revealed that the victim’s money was never used for its intended purpose, namely the construction of the victim’s home, but was instead diverted by the defendant for his own gain.
Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Diane Aifer handled the case.