Motel owner sentenced for stealing Superstorm Sandy funds

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- A New Jersey motel owner who stole more than $81,000 in federal disaster relief funds by falsely claiming he had sheltered Superstorm Sandy victims is now headed to prison.

Sandipkumar Patel received a three-year sentence Friday. The 44-year-old Edison man had pleaded guilty in September to theft by deception and has paid full restitution.

RELATED: Dozens charged with Sandy fraud since 2014

State authorities say Patel fraudulently took $81,567 from a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that paid hotels and motels for rooms temporarily occupied by victims.

Patel and his wife own the American Motel in Toms River.

Authorities say Patel falsely billed FEMA for 11 supposed victims, including eight of whom never stayed at the motel. The three others stayed for shorter periods than were billed or shared a room that Patel had already billed to FEMA.

RELATED: PHOTOS from Superstorm Sandy

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Pictured: Damage in Ortley Beach, N.J. after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012.