The owner of the Americana Motel in Toms River heads to prison for three years, for scamming the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of $81,567 in Superstorm Sandy relief.

Sandipkumar Patel (NJ Atty. General's Office)
Sandipkumar Patel (NJ Atty. General's Office)

Sandipkumar Patel, 44, of Edison, pleaded guilty in September to a second-degree count of theft by deception. He has paid full restitution, accoring to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

Investigators determined that Patel listed 11 individuals in his claim for Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) money, including eight who never roomed there, three whose stays were shorter than the time frames he cited, and one who doubled up in another listee's room. FEMA paid $133.28 per day for each Sandy victim in the claim.

Patel was accused of submitting claims for stays lasting weeks, and some lasting months, and for attributing more than $50,000 to relatives in New Jersey who weren't displaced.

The Attorney General's office has filed charges against 71 Superstorm relief claimants since March 2014, working jointly with federal and state agencies responsible for managing the funds.

Patel was represented by Westfield attorney Robert G. Stahl.

Suspicions of fraud and corruption can be given to the Division of Criminal Justice by phone, 1-866-TIPS-4CJ, or through the Division of Criminal Justice web page

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