A New Jersey couple pleaded guilty to defrauding more than 20 Hurricane Sandy victims — who paid them to repair their homes — to the tune of $1 million.
Jeffrey Colmyer, 42, and Tiffany Cimino, 34, contractors who promised to fix victims' homes, instead used the funds they received to gamble at seven Atlantic City casinos, buy a $17,000 diamond ring and make other purchases, the Asbury Park Press reported.
They never completed the work they had agreed to do under the two contracting businesses they owned, Rayne Construction Management Services LLC and Colmyer & Sons LLC.
The couple, from Little Egg Harbor, N.J., pleaded guilty to theft by failure to make required disposition of property before Superior Court Judge Guy P. Ryan, in Toms River, according to the report.
Colmyer, the principal of the couple's businesses, pleaded guilty to money laundering, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.
Colmyer and Cimino are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 7.
"Colmyer and Cimino heartlessly preyed on Sandy victims whose homes had been destroyed, stealing the relief funds that were the lifeline these victims needed to rebuild in the aftermath of the historic storm," Attorney General Grewal said in a statement.
"By sending Colmyer to prison, we deliver a strong deterrent message that anyone willing to sink so low as to steal disaster relief money from victims will face a stern reckoning."
The bulk of the stolen funds came from the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program set up to cover rebuilding costs for families whose homes were destroyed by the storm.
The State Division of Consumer Affairs and Division of Law sued the couple in October 2016, ordering them to pay $695,402 in restitution to victims and $655,243 to the state of New Jersey for stolen Sandy relief funds.