TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A southern New Jersey woman has admitted stealing about $40,000 in benefit money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after major storms hit the state in recent years.
Federal prosecutors say 47-year-old Sara Cengiz of Brick falsely claimed she needed the funds for housing.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf To Highlight Support Of Small Businesses During COVID-19
She pleaded guilty Friday to a disaster benefits fraud charge.
Prosecutors said Cengiz first sought benefits in April 2010, seeking federal rental assistance and aid for personal property damage. She falsely claimed she had to rent another residence because her residence was damaged by severe storms, they said.
Cengiz submitted fraudulent lease agreements and rental receipts to FEMA to show she was paying rent, which she was not. From May 2010 to June 2011, she received $26,938 in fraudulently obtained disaster-related funds.READ MORE: CDC, FDA Recommend US Pause Use Of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns
Cengiz filed another application with FEMA in August 2011, seeking federal rental assistance and assistance for personal property damage after Hurricane Irene hit. From November 2011 to January 2012, Cengiz received $13,039 in fraudulently obtained disaster related funds, prosecutors said.
Cengiz faces up to 30 years in prison when she’s sentenced in March. She also will have to pay restitution, though the exact amount has not been determined.
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