Planet Princeton
15% off your first order with Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Mercer County resident charged with Superstorm Sandy fraud

Linda Petersack-Kunz

A Mercer County resident is one of five people the New Jersey Attorney General charged with fraud today in connection with applications filed for relief funds because of Superstorm Sandy.

Most of the defendants allegedly filed fraudulent applications for relief funds offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In some cases, they also allegedly applied for funds from a Sandy relief program funded by HUD, low-interest disaster loans from the SBA, or funds administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

Linda Petersack-Kunz, 56, of Ewing, allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and state grant funds under the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program. As a result, she allegedly received approximately $17,743 in relief funds to which she was not entitled. She also received a $10,000 grant and an SBA loan of $116,300, but she repaid those two debts. Petersack-Kunz allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a home she now owns with her husband on Judy Drive in Manahawkin, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence when Sandy struck. Law enforcement officials claim that 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.

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, the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program, and the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program. As a result, he allegedly received approximately $171,099 in relief funds. Barlotta allegedly falsely claimed in his applications that a home he owns on Beach Avenue in Long Branch, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck. Officials allege that 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, allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program, the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program, and the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program. As a result, he allegedly received approximately $137,827 in relief funds. 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, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck. Officials allege that 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, allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and a state grant under the Homeowner Resettlement Program. 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, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was his primary residence when Sandy struck. Officials allege that 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, allegedly filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance and a state grant under the Homeowner Resettlement Program. As a result, she allegedly received approximately $19,969 in relief funds. Galetta allegedly falsely claimed in her applications that a home she owns on 24th Avenue in Seaside Park, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence when Sandy struck. Officials allege that 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.

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.

“Stealing any type of public aid is reprehensible, but it’s especially egregious to steal relief funds in the context of a historic disaster, when every dollar is needed for recovery,” said Elie Honig, director of the Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to pursue these prosecutions with our state and federal partners, so we can guard these funds and deter this type of criminal conduct in future emergencies.”

Since March 2014, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has filed criminal charges against 96 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud.

“We charge that these defendants stole from disaster relief programs and by extension from the victims who were hardest hit by the storm,” said Attorney General Christopher Porrino. “We’ll continue to charge every cheat we identify who diverted funds from these recovery programs and from victims in need.”

 

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

Events Calendar

« December 2017 » loading...
M T W T F S S
27
28
29
30
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
Sun 17

Christmas Bird Count, Kingston segment

December 17 @ 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Sun 17
Sun 17

Santa Comes to Kale’s Garden Center

December 17 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sun 17
Sun 17

Carillon Concert at Princeton University

December 17 @ 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Sun 17
Sun 17

Palmer Square Winter Wonderland and Photo Workshop

December 17 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Sun 17

Holiday Open House at Mountain Lakes House

December 17 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Sun 17

Messiah Sing Along!

December 17 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sun 17

Blue Advent Service

December 17 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  • Get 15% off your first order with Vosges Haut-Chocolat
       

Advertisement

  • Get 15% off your first order with Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Events Calendar

« December 2017 » loading...
M T W T F S S
27
28
29
30
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
Sun 17

Christmas Bird Count, Kingston segment

December 17 @ 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Sun 17
Sun 17

Santa Comes to Kale’s Garden Center

December 17 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
%d bloggers like this: