A 56-year-old Westchester man collected $150,000 in taxpayer-funded Superstorm Sandy relief by claiming his damaged Jersey Shore home as his primary residence, state authorities charged.
The home that Thomas Aquilino of Yonkers owns on Baltimore Avenue in Point Pleasant that was damaged by the historic storm is actually a summer/weekend property, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
His real home was in Yonkers when Aquilino fraudulently applied for and received the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) funds, Grewal said.
Aquilino was charged with theft by deception and released pending a hearing.
As of Wednesday, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office had filed criminal charges against 116 people since March 2014 who Grewal said collected a combined $7 million in relief funds that they weren't entitled to.
Authorities have recovered more than $2.2 million of the money, the attorney general said.
“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,” Grewal said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.