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Toms River Organization to Receive Funds Seized From Phony Sandy Charity

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced Tuesday that donations previously made to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation (HSRF), an unregistered charity whose founders allegedly misled donors in violation of the law, have been distributed to legitimate charitable organizations for the aid of Superstorm Sandy victims.

A Toms River-based organization is among the legitimate charities to benefit. 

“In response to the suffering caused by Superstorm Sandy, donors flocked to this organization in the hope that their money would help storm victims and repair damaged communities,” Hoffman said.  “Today, thanks to our investigation and enforcement action, we are ensuring that their charitable good intentions are being carried out.”

A total of $225,000 was distributed last week to four charitable organizations registered with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and one charitable organization registered in New York State, specifically for the benefit of Sandy victims. The organizations were selected based on their proposals to specifically use the money to help Sandy victims, in accord with the representations that HSRF made to the public when soliciting donations.  An additional $100,000 is under final review for distribution in the near future.

“Today’s announcement is a victory for donors who gave generously to help families whose lives were torn apart by Superstorm Sandy,” New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “As we demonstrated in bringing charges against those involved in price gouging and other scams in Sandy’s wake, we will not tolerate anyone who seeks to profit from the suffering of others.”

The initial distribution of $225,000 from HSRF donations, was made to the following organizations:

  • O.C.E.A.N., Inc., of Toms River, received $100,000 to construct 12 three-bedroom, single-family homes in Berkeley Township.  The homes will be rented to Sandy victims.  Placements will be made based on O.C.E.A.N. Inc.’s waiting list for rental housing, as well as on referrals from the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and Catholic Charities.  
  • The FoodBank of Monmouth/Ocean Counties, of Neptune, received $50,000 to support its network of food pantries that provide food for thousands of Sandy-affected families.
  • The Alliance Center for Independence, of Edison, in partnership with South Carolina-based Portlight Strategies, Inc., received $50,000 for post-Sandy relief projects aiding individuals with disabilities.  This will include providing durable medical equipment; the repair or replacement of lifts, elevators and ramps; and other equipment for internal and external accessibility needs.
  • Graybeards, Ltd. Based in Rockaway, N.Y., received $25,000 for donations to Sandy-affected individuals in and near the Rockaway Peninsula.  This proposal was selected because certain contributions to HSRF were earmarked for Superstorm Sandy relief in New York.

The Divisions of Consumer Affairs and Law filed suit in February 2013 against HSRF and its principals, John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino, alleging the defendants violated the Charitable Registration and Investigations Act, Charities Regulations and Consumer Fraud Act, among other things, by operating an unregistered charity, diverting donated funds into their personal accounts, and misrepresenting that donations where tax-deductible when HSRF did not have IRS tax-exempt status.

In June 2013, the State arrived at a settlement in which a court-appointed Organization Administrator took control of HSRF and its financial accounts in order to distribute all remaining donations and dissolve the organization.  Under the court-approved settlement, Sandberg and Terraccino also are permanently barred from soliciting contributions in New Jersey for Superstorm Sandy relief and are barred, for a minimum of two years, from serving in a leadership position in any charitable organization in New Jersey.

Chief Investigator Laurie Goodman, of the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs, conducted the investigation of this matter.  Deputy Attorney General Lorraine K. Rak, Chief of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, represents the State in this action.  Nancy E. Kelly of NE Kelly & Associates, LLC has functioned as the Organization Administrator. 

STSV2010 April 16, 2014 at 09:37 AM
From the Star Ledger: The Hurricane Sandy charity chaired by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie announced today it plans to hand out another $5 million in grants for disaster relief. The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has so far distributed roughly two-thirds of the $40 million it has raised since the storm ravaged the state’s coastline and other waterfront communities. That’s nearly $26 million in grants, half of which has gone toward housing programs, according to the group. The advisory board also includes honorary members Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Bono. The grant committee decides where the money is distributed. Mrs. Christie is no a member of that committee.
Realitysux April 17, 2014 at 09:06 AM
they allegedly spent 40k,unlike pat who pays herself 450k annually and was applauded at such a small rate. kane in your corner on channel 12 news did two exposes trying to find out where the money went, but got very vague answers. plus Christie claims it is a long term charity, which means the longer they have the money the more pat gets paid. some of the charities they gave to where American red cross, education?, habitat for humanity, 18 month after sandy, meanwhile this couple had handed out over one half of money received in the first six months, more than a million bucks. I am sure people who donated to pats charity had no idea it was to be given to other charities, who charge a higher rate of administration fees, so the money is getting admin fees charged twice, and given out in dribs and drabs. otherwise they would have donated directly to these other so called charities
STSV2010 April 17, 2014 at 01:30 PM
I know that this information will never register to Realitysux, but, for the rest of you: The state’s own investigation, begun a few months earlier, determined that the bogus charity had distributed just $1,650 in gift cards to actual victims and Paypal gave back between $250,000 and $275,000 to approximately 2,000 donors. Meanwhile, this summer, the Sparta couple who started the charity, John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino, were living in a gated community on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast. Mary Pat Christie's pay of $307,372 is for being a vice president at Cantor Fitzgerald, the Wall Street financial services firm. She receives no money for the relief fund. The largest grants the group has awarded, include: $5.2 million to a program that provides gap funding for homeowners who have qualified for a state-administered rebuilding grant, $1.6 million for housing assistance in Union Beach and $750,000 to support Habitat for Humanity International’s Sandy efforts.
Michie511 April 18, 2014 at 07:33 AM
Isn't nepotism frowned upon in the government? First Mary Pat, her son, & other family members are paid with Christie funds to do an unneeded "NJ Shore" commercial (nepotism), and Mary Pat is in charge of the donated money (again nepotism). If it was anyone else doing that, Christie would be all over it. I love NJ but not the crooked politics.
rightwing April 18, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Thanks, STSV2010. God Bless you for your perseverance. I have given up "preaching to the choir" on the patch.

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