Beachwood woman, three others charged with Sandy aid fraud
A Beachwood woman suspected of Superstorm-related fraud, and four others who allegedly collected federal funds for shore vacation houses that they rent, face theft and other charges filed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Janie Spataro, 52, is accused of collecting more than $21,000 in federal relief for an Ocean Gate house that she rents, according to information from Attorney General Christoper S. Porrino.
Also charged are Stephen and Sharon Hewitt, of Westville, NJ; Lisa Drew, 45, of Camden; and Mary Eileen Adams, 64, of Glenmoore, PA.
All five are charged with third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
Third-degree charges carry potential prison terms of three to five years on conviction, along with fines up to $15,000. Fourth-degree counts can mean sentences of up to 18 months and fines up to $10,000.
Adams also faces a second-degree count of attempted theft by deception, with a possible five to 10 years of incarceration and fines as high as $150,000.
Sparato allegedly collected $11,171 through the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, and $10,000 through the Homeowner Resettlment Program (RSP), by claiming that a vacation-rental house on East Long Branch Avenue in Ocean Gate was her primary residence.
Investigators said that Adams received $31,949 in rental aid, RSP and RREM grants related to a vacation-rental house on Atlantic Avenue in Beach Haven. Her original approval for almost $75,000 was rescinded during investigations, and after she received a $16,589 RREM check, authorities said.
The Hewitts are accused of filing for RREM, RSP and Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP), conntected to a damaged house on Mohawk Drive in Little Egg Harbor. Investigators determined that it is a vacation home. Their RREM application was denied, but authorities said that they recieved $52,146 from FEMA and the RSP and SHRAP programs.
Drew allegedly collected $9,479 in rental aid from FEMA, submitting a lease for her Camden apartment and rent receipts she ascribed to a room in her daughter’s house in Blackwood. Investigators said that the documents were not authentic, and that Drew lived neither in the apartment or in her daughter’s house.
Spataro is represented by Jersey City attorney Carmen Mendiola. The Hewitts retained Barrington lawyer Stephen Guice. State officials had no information regarding legal representation for Drew or Adams.
The Attorney General’s Office has filed charges against 76 Sandy fraud defendants since March 2014.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.