Rita O’Connor, 60, is facing a charge of theft by deception after authorities say she fraudulently obtained $2,270 in FEMA rental assistance by falsifying checks and receipts for two months of rent that she purportedly paid to her daughter to rent a home in Ridgewood. Authorities say O'Connor, whose home was damaged in the storm, never rented the home, which was not owned by her daughter.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General referred this case to the Division of Criminal Justice, the attorney general's office said.
The other three individuals charged Wednesday were involved in distinctly different schemes, it is alleged, including a West Chester, Pa., woman who claimed a home he owned in Manahawkin was her primary residence when it was actually a vacation home. Mary Conlin, 51, received $137,400 in loan proceeds, but is now charged with second-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification.
Another woman, Leonor Canales, 40, of Orlando, Fla., formerly of Elizabeth, is facing charges of third-degree theft by deception and fourth-degree unsworn falsification for collecting $22,172 in FEMA rental assistance through February 2014 while she was also collecting Section 8 housing assistance.
Finally, Magdi Mosaid, 55, of Hasbrouck Heights, was charged with the same two offenses after it is alleged he filed two fraudulent applications for Homeowner Resettlement grants for rental properties in Little Ferry and Rochelle Park that he claimed were his primary residences.
“With these ongoing prosecutions, we’re delivering a wake-up call to anyone who would consider taking Sandy relief funds through fraud,” said Elie Honig, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice. “Falsifying these applications is a crime, and anyone who does it will be caught and charged as a criminal. We continue to investigate these cases with our state and federal partners."