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4 People Accused Of Scamming FEMA For Sandy Funds In New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Four people were charged in New Jersey Thursday with filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy.

The New Jersey State Attorney General's Office has now filed criminal charges against 20 people for allegedly engaging in Sandy-related fraud.

The latest defendants to be charged were:

• Nabil Girgis, 65, of Toms River, who stands accused of filing fraudulent applications for a Federal Emergency Management Association grant under the Homeowner Resettling Program. Girgis allegedly claimed a house on Hiering Avenue in Seaside Heights was his primary residence, when it was really a rental property while his primary residence is in Toms River. He allegedly received $31,900 from FEMA and a $10,000 Resettling Program grant.

• Nicole Loryn Fiel, 34, of Brooklyn, who was accused of filing a fraudulent application for a FEMA grant. She allegedly claimed her primary residence was a Brick Township home she co-owns with her father, while she actually lived in Brooklyn the Brick house had been up for rent and vacant at the time. She received $28,020 in federal funds, prosecutors said.

• Robert T. Bland, 41, whose last known address was in Highlands, and who was accused of falsely claiming he'd had to move out of a motel to get funds. He allegedly claimed he was renting a room at the Thunderbird Motel in Seaside Heights when Sandy hit and was displaced, but while a female friend had actually stayed at the motel, Bland had not, prosecutors said. Bland received $19,385 in rental assistance.

• Michael A. Vetter, 56, of Bayonne, who allegedly filed for FEMA rental assistance on claims that he had been displaced from his primary home on Beach Drive in Little Egg Harbor Township, prosecutors said. He allegedly submitted fraudulent documents claiming that he later moved to an apartment in Bayonne when he really did not, prosecutors said. Vetter received $16,200 in rental assistance.

"We allege that these defendants selfishly and deviously stole from federal and state relief programs, diverting funds that are desperately needed for those whose primary homes were battered and left uninhabitable by Superstorm Sandy," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a release. "The harm caused by these thefts is compounded because relief administrators and supporting agencies must dedicate time and resources to pursue these cases, when they should be able to focus exclusively on those in need."

Each defendant could be sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison and be hit with a fine of $25,000 if convicted on all charges, prosecutors said.

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