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Sayreville Man Among Five Charged with Filing Phony Sandy Relief Fund Applications

By kcora on
Sayreville New Jersey

Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that five additional individuals were charged criminally today with filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy. Since March 2014, the Attorney General’s Office has filed criminal charges against 96 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud, including the five individuals just charged.

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.

Edward Barlotta, 65, of Cape Coral, Fla., 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 $171,099 in relief funds to which he was not entitled. Barlotta allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on Beach Avenue in Long Branch, 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 Florida and the home in Long Branch was a secondary/seasonal home. As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Barlotta received $2,270 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, RREM grant funds totaling $150,000, and approximately $8,829 in SHRAP funds. Barlotta is charged with second-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

Thomas Dooney, 65, of Ramsey, 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 $137,827 in relief funds to which he was not entitled. Dooney also applied for a low-interest SBA loan and was approved for a loan of $143,000, but he never closed on the loan or received any funds. Dooney allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on Bower Drive in Brick, 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 Ramsey and the home in Brick was a seasonal/weekend home. As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Dooney received approximately $9,825 from FEMA, a $10,000 RSP grant, approximately 103,002 in RREM grant funds, and approximately $15,000 in SHRAP funds. Dooney is charged with second-degree theft by deception, second-degree attempted theft by deception, and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

Walter G. Ribeiro, Jr., 63, of , of Deptford, 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, he allegedly received approximately $41,302 in relief funds to which he was not entitled. Ribeiro allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on Calvert Street in Ventnor, 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 Deptford and the home in Ventnor was a vacation home. As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Ribeiro received approximately $31,302 from FEMA and a $10,000 RSP grant. Ribeiro is charged with third-degree theft by deception.

Joan Galetta, 74, of Sayreville, 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 $19,969 in relief funds to which she was not entitled. Galetta allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a home she owns on 24th Avenue in Seaside Park, N.J., which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence when Sandy struck. It is alleged that, in fact, her primary residence at the time of the storm was in Sayreville and the Seaside Park home was a secondary weekend/vacation home. As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Galetta received approximately $9,969 from FEMA and a $10,000 RSP grant. Galetta is charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

Linda Petersack-Kunz, 56, of Ewing, N.J., allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and state grant funds under the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP). As a result, she allegedly received approximately $17,743 in relief funds to which she was not entitled. She also received a $10,000 RSP grant and an SBA loan of $116,300, but she repaid those two sums. Petersack-Kunz allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a home she now owns with her husband on Judy Drive in Manahawkin, N.J., which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence when Sandy struck. It is alleged that, in fact, the storm-damaged property was owned solely by her husband when the storm hit and her primary home was in Ewing. Her husband’s primary home allegedly was in Florida at the time. As a result of the alleged false applications, Petersack-Kunz received $2,820 in FEMA rental assistance and approximately $14,923 in SHRAP funds. She is charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

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.