A Brick homeowner whose primary residence is in Staten Island, N.Y. is charged with falsely claiming to have lived full-time in his Brick residence to obtain Superstorm Sandy aid, authorities said.
Christopher Carlino, 51, allegedly fraudulently obtained a total of $56,248 by filing false applications following the storm for FEMA assistance, a state grant under the Homeowner Resettlement Program, and state assistance under the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program funded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
In addition, authorities allege, Carlino filed fraudulent applications for a grant from the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program and a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration, but those applications were rejected.
Carlino allegedly falsely claimed on all of the applications that a storm-damaged house he owns on Alcala Drive in Brick was his primary residence at the time Sandy hit. It is alleged that, in reality, Carlino’s primary residence was in Staten Island, N.Y., at the time of the storm. Carlino received $31,900 from FEMA for rental assistance, repairs and other items. He received a $10,000 RSP grant and $14,348 for mortgage and utility payments through the SHRAP program.
Carlino, prosecutors say, allegedly submitted a fraudulent lease and invoice to FEMA purporting to show that he was renting a home in Trenton as a result of being displaced by Sandy. He paid restitution of the FEMA funds and also has been repaying the RSP grant. Carlino is charged with second-degree attempted theft by deception, third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
“We’re working diligently with our state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that every allegation of fraud involving these Sandy relief programs is thoroughly investigated,” said Director Elie Honig of the state’s Division of Criminal Justice, in a statement. “Our goal in these joint efforts is to recover the stolen funds and also to send a clear message that this type of fraud will be met with serious criminal charges, now and during any future disaster relief efforts.”
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 state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of $10,000.