NJ charges 4 with false Sandy aid applications

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March 13, 2014 3:00:34 PM PDT
New Jersey authorities have charged four homeowners with trying to get post-Superstorm Sandy aid they were not entitled to by claiming that vacation homes were their primary residences.

The four received benefits ranging from nearly $13,000 to more than $22,000. All are charged with theft in the first prosecutions of their kind in the state since the October 2012 storm.

Investigators say two of the homes had been vacant before the storm.

Under federal rules, only primary residences are eligible for government aid. Some rental properties are eligible for aid, but not through the programs allegedly abused in these cases.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says state and federal officials are continuing to investigate similar cases.

Those charged are:

Ronald MacKenzie, 62, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, allegedly received $20,358 in FEMA grants, including a $16,685 home repair grant and smaller rental assistance and personal property grants. He allegedly filed applications claiming that a storm-damaged property on Ocean Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor was his primary residence, when in fact the home was damaged by a fire in May 2009 and had since been uninhabited with no utility service. He also is charged with third-degree attempted theft by deception in connection with applications for HUD funds that were denied by the DCA.

Richard Maciocha, 49, of Mantua, N.J., received $2,820 in FEMA rental assistance, and a $10,000 grant under the HUD Homeowner Resettlement Program administered by the DCA. He allegedly claimed that a storm-damaged house on Captains Drive in Little Egg Harbor was his primary residence, when in fact it is a vacation home. About one month after Sandy hit, before he filed the applications for storm aid, he allegedly switched the address on his driver's license from Mantua to the Shore house.

Deborah J. Young, 54, of Maple Shade, N.J., received $21,128 in FEMA grants, including $18,858 for repairs and $2,270 for rental assistance. She allegedly claimed a storm-damaged house on Flamingo Road in Tuckerton was her primary home, when in fact it was owned by the family of her deceased husband, from whom she had been separated, and was vacant. As administrator of his estate, she deeded herself a 50 percent interest in the home after receiving the FEMA grants.

Dawn Bye, 46, of Staten Island, N.Y., received $22,410 in FEMA grants, including a $16,230 home repair grant and $6,180 in rental assistance. She allegedly claimed a storm-damaged house on Fremont Avenue in Seaside Heights was her primary residence, when in fact it is a vacation rental property.


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