Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that an Ocean County couple has been arrested for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from more than 20 victims who hired the couple’s home improvement companies to repair or rebuild their homes after Superstorm Sandy.
The victims paid the couple and their firms over $1 million, mostly in Sandy relief funds, but the couple allegedly diverted much of the money to gamble and buy luxury items, leaving homes in disrepair.
Jeffrey Colmyer, 41, and Tiffany Cimino, 43, who live together in Little Egg Harbor, were arrested yesterday by detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice on a range of charges, including theft, money laundering, and misconduct by a corporate official, all in the second degree, and failure to pay taxes and tax fraud, both third-degree offenses.
They were lodged in the Ocean County Jail with bail for each set at $300,000. Charges also were filed against the couple’s home improvement contracting companies, Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC (RCMS) and Colmyer & Sons Construction, LLC.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs previously investigated this matter and filed a civil action in August against the defendants, alleging numerous violations of the Consumer Fraud Act and seeking consumer restitution and civil penalties, among other things.
Colmyer and Cimino allegedly diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars their victims paid to have their homes repaired, elevated and rebuilt. The couple allegedly used the funds to pay personal expenses, including payments for new cars, jewelry purchases by Cimino, including a $17,000 diamond ring, and hundreds of thousands of dollars that Colmyer gambled at seven casinos in Atlantic City.
Meanwhile, they abandoned jobs, or in many cases failed to even start jobs, leaving many victims with uninhabitable homes. Most of the funds that allegedly were stolen came from the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, a Sandy relief program administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The RREM Program was the state’s largest Sandy housing recovery program and provided grants to impacted homeowners to cover rebuilding costs up to $150,000 that were not covered by insurance, other federal emergency relief funds, or other sources.
The following criminal charges were filed against Colmyer and Cimino by complaint-warrant:
Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Property (2nd degree),
Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity (Money Laundering) (2nd degree),
Misconduct by a Corporate Official (2nd degree),
Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity (Structuring) (3rd degree),
Tampering with Public Records (3rd degree),
Filing a Fraudulent Tax Return (3rd degree) (Tax years 2013 and 2014),
Failure to File a Tax Return (3rd degree) (Tax year 2015), and
Failure to Pay Tax (3rd degree) (Tax years 2013 through 2015).
RCMS and Colmyer & Sons also are charged with theft, money laundering, structuring, and tampering with public records.
The tampering charge relates to the fact that the defendants allegedly lied about Colmyer’s ownership interest in RCMS in applying for and obtaining a Home Elevation Contractor Registration through the Division of Consumer Affairs. The defendants allegedly falsely claimed that Colmyer had less than a 10 percent interest in RCMS, because the application requires that anyone with an interest of 10 percent or more disclose whether he or she has been convicted of certain crimes, such as theft. Colmyer has two prior convictions for theft by failure to make required disposition of property.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The money laundering and structuring charges carry sentences consecutive to the sentence for the theft charge, and carry potential additional penalties of $250,000 and $75,000, respectively.