By Kim Glovas
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — Four homeowners in New Jersey have been charged with defrauding the government by taking Superstorm Sandy federal relief money under false pretenses.
New Jersey acting attorney general John Hoffman says false applications were filed by four different homeowners, two from South Jersey and two from out of state. He says all four had vacation homes at the shore which they claimed were their primary homes.
The four charged are Ronald MacKenzie, 62, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Deborah J. Young, 54, of Maple Shade, NJ; Dawn Bye, 46, of Staten Island, NY; and Richard Maciocha of Mantua, NJ.
Hoffman says Maciocha went to great lengths to perpetrate the fraud.
“About a month after Sandy hit, he switched his address on his driver’s license from Mantua to his vacation home, to try and make a claim that it was his primary residence, when in reality it wasn’t — it was just a vacation home,” Hoffman says. “It just goes to show the steps people are taking to try and defraud the government.”
Each is accused of taking between $13,000 and $22,000 under false pretenses. Hoffman said that such crimes take money away from homeowners who were truly victimized by Sandy and are much more deserving.
The four could face up to five years in state prison and fines up to $15,000 for the third-degree charges. The fourth-degree crimes each carry a maximum of 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.