A couple from Little Egg Harbor was sentenced Friday for their roles in stealing $1.4 million from people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, authorities said.
Jeffrey Colmyer, 43, and his wife, Tiffany Cimino, 35, of Little Egg Harbor, diverted money paid by victims with Sandy relief funds to have their homes rebuilt and instead used it on luxury items and for gambling, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement.
Colmyer was sentenced to seven years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Guy P. Ryan in Ocean County. Cimino was sentenced to five years of probation.
The couple was arrested Oct. 11, 2016. More than 20 victims hired Colmyer’s home improvement companies to fix their homes after Hurricane Sandy, the Grewal said.
Much of the money was spent on luxury items: a $17,000 diamond ring and gambling at seven Atlantic City casinos. The homes were left in disrepair, Grewal said.
The couple pleaded guilty May 29 to charges of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received. Colmyer also pleaded guilty to money laundering on behalf the companies, Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC and Colmyer & Sons, LLC, the statement said.
“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,” 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.”
Most of the funds stolen came from the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program, which was the state’s largest Sandy housing recovery program and provided grants to homeowners to cover rebuilding costs up to $150,000 that were not covered by insurance.
The defendants must pay $695,402 in restitution to the victims and $655,243 to the state as restitution for the stolen Sandy relief funds. In addition, Colmyer must pay $56,472 to the state for back taxes, and Cimino must pay $56,332.