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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey man has been sentenced for stealing more than $1 million from roughly 20 victims of Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced Friday.
Jeffrey Colmyer was sentenced to seven years in prison, while his wife, Tiffany Cimino, received five years probation.
The couple ran a home contracting business and instead of helping homeowners rebuild after the storm, authorities say they spent the $1.4 million on gambling and luxury items.
“Colmyer and Cimino callously stole from Sandy victims whose homes were destroyed, compounding the hardships and distress their victims faced as they strived to rebuild after this historic storm,” Attorney General Grewal said. “By absconding with disaster relief funds and personal savings that these victims desperately needed, these defendants proved themselves to be heartless con artists.”
Colmyer, 43, and Cimino, 35, of Little Egg Harbor, pleaded guilty to charges of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received on May 29. Colmyer also entered guilty pleas to second-degree money laundering.
Superior Court Judge Guy Ryan ordered the couple to pay $695,402 in restitution to victims and $655,243 to the State of New Jersey for stolen Sandy relief funds.
“We have prosecuted many cases of fraud and theft related to Superstorm Sandy, but this is perhaps the most egregious, given the amount stolen by this couple and the fact that they enriched themselves at the expense of victims who were hit hardest by this natural disaster,” Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice said.
The couple diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to their companies — Rayne Construction Management Services and Colmyer & Sons — that Sandy victims had given them to rebuild and raise their homes. Instead, the couple used the money to pay for personal expenses, including a $17,000 diamond ring for Cimino while Colmyer spent thousands gambling, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The duo abandoned many jobs, and in many cases, failed to even start home restorations.