Lodi, N.J. -- A Lodi homeowner collected nearly $125,159 in taxpayer-funded Superstorm Sandy relief by claiming her damaged Jersey Shore home as her primary residence, state authorities charged.
The home that Appolonia DiPiazza, 53, owns on East Mohawk Avenue in Little Egg Harbor that was damaged by the historic storm is actually a summer/weekend property, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
By lying on applications, DiPiazza received $2,270 from FEMA, $112,889 in RREM grant funds, and a $10,000 RSP grant, Grewal said.
Authorities charged her with theft by deception and released her pending a hearing.
Since March 2014, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has filed criminal charges against nearly 109 people accusing them of similar fraud -- including four charged on on Thursday -- who collected a combined $6 million in relief funds that Grewal said they weren't entitled to.
“Any fraud against public assistance programs is deplorable, but these thefts were especially egregious because they diverted funds intended for victims left homeless by one of the most devastating storms in New Jersey history,” he said.
"We have recovered over $2 million through these prosecutions," the attorney general added, "and we also have sent a strong message that should deter this type of fraud during future disaster relief efforts.”
“DCA remains committed to pursuing people who steal Sandy recovery funds for their own personal gain,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, the Department of Community Affairs commissioner. “This ensures that taxpayer dollars are going to Sandy survivors who legitimately qualify for assistance.”
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