Sandipkumar Patel among 9 charged in New Jersey with storm relief fraud

New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that nine additional individuals have been charged criminally with filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy. Since March 2014, the Attorney General’s Office has filed criminal charges against 71 people for allegedly engaging in this type of fraud, including the nine individuals charged today.

They were charged for allegedly filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to ‘Superstorm’ Sandy, among them an Indian-American from Edison, New Jersey. Sandipkumar Patel, 43, a motel owner, and 8 others are among more than 70 people charged since March 2014, with fraud in connection to the October 2012 storm that destroyed thousands of homes on the East Coast, Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced Aug. 22.

Sandipkumar Patel, 43, of Edison, N.J., allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $81,567 from the FEMA Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. Under the TSA program, FEMA directly paid participating hotels and motels for rooms temporarily occupied by residents displaced by the storm. Patel owns the American Motel on Route 166 in Toms River, N.J., with his wife. FEMA paid the motel $133.28 per day for each room occupied by storm victims.

It is alleged that Patel fraudulently billed FEMA a total of $81,567 in the names of 11 individuals. Eight of the individuals allegedly never stayed at the motel at all, while the other three allegedly stayed for shorter periods or, in one case, shared a room that Patel already had billed to FEMA in the name of the other occupant. In some cases, Patel allegedly falsely billed for stays of multiple weeks or even months. He allegedly billed FEMA more than $50,000 in the names of several of his personal relatives who live in New Jersey but who were not displaced by the storm. Patel is charged with second-degree theft by deception.

“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 Director Elie Honig of the 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,” Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice, is quoted saying in the press release.

In some cases, Patel allegedly falsely billed for stays of multiple weeks or even months. He allegedly billed FEMA more than $50,000 in the names of several of his personal relatives who live in New Jersey but who were not displaced by the storm.

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