Hudson County officials have released the following information:
According to police, on Wednesday, July 31, Mr. Jose Puma, 49, and Mrs. Maria Puma, 50, surrendered to members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Public Integrity/Insurance Fraud Unit while accompanied by their attorney, officials say.
Officials say police arrested the Guttenberg residents without incident following an investigation into a fire that took place in a three-story residential building that they own in Guttenberg.
Jose Puma was arrested on a Summons Complaint charging him with one count of Insurance Fraud, a third-degree crime and one count of Violation of Law Intended to Protect Public Health and Safety, a third-degree crime according to police.
Maria Puma was also arrested on a Summons Complaint charging her with one count of Violation of Law Intended to Protect Public Health and Safety, officials report.
They are scheduled to make a first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court at 1:00 p.m. on August 5, officials say.
According to officials, on May 20 at approximately 6:15 p.m., a fire at 67 70th Street in Guttenberg inflicted severe burns upon a female victim, age 26, of Guttenberg, who remains in critical but stable condition at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.
Officials report that the investigation by the Hudson County Regional Arson Task Force into the origin and cause of the fire has revealed that the Origin of the fire was in one of the three illegal apartments located on the ground/basement floor of the house. The cause of the fire remains undetermined.
A subsequent investigation by members of the Public Integrity/Insurance Fraud Unit revealed that Jose Puma made material misrepresentations on the insurance policy application for the property, officials say. In that application, Jose Puma falsely indicated that only two families were living in the building and that the building was not being used for business purposes.
Additionally, the investigation concluded that numerous construction and fire codes were knowingly violated, resulting in the victim sustaining serious bodily injury, according to officials. These violations included a lack of smoke detectors in each apartment and inadequate means to escape in an emergency.
Prosecutor Suarez credited members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Public Integrity/Insurance Fraud Unit with the investigation and arrest.
The above charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.