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TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Monday to two separate charges for stealing nearly $1 million in funds meant to help rebuild homes after Superstorm Sandy. While working as a contractor, Robert Brower, of Seaside Heights, allegedly used the funds to buy illegal narcotics and funneled money into a bank account he created using his deceased father’s information.
Brower, 45, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for taking over $750,000 from a Toms River homeowner, and failing to complete the restorative work on the victim’s home, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said.
During the project, Brower repeatedly asked the victim for — and received — more money in order to move the project on the Sandy-ravaged home forward.
“Brower admitted in Court that he left the house unfinished and stole in excess of $750,000 for his own use including the purchase of illegal narcotics,” Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said.
In the second case, Brower pleaded guilty to second-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.
Brower admitted to stealing over $225,000 from a grant from the United States’ Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Prosecutors say he transferred the funds to an account he created using his deceased father’s Social Security number and date of birth to try and hide the theft.
Investigators determined that those funds were never used to repair a home in Seaside Heights.
In an unrelated incident, Brower also pleaded guilty to distribution of 18 folds of heroin to an individual in a Toms River parking lot in February of 2018.
Prosecutors recommend Brower be sentenced up to 22 years in prison.