Seaside Heights man arrested for Sandy fraud
A Seaside Heights man who allegedly acted as a home contractor trying to defraud a Sandy victim of over a million dollars he received to renovate a home in Toms River and didn't do the work, has been arrested, according to the Ocean County Prosecutors Office.
Robert William Brower Jr., 45, faces several charges including money laundering.
His arrest Monday night at a Waters Edge Drive home in Toms River came after an eighteen month joint investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Economic Crimes Unit, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau.
Brower is being charged in two separate cases with one count of Money Laundering in the second degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25, two counts of second degree Theft by failure to make required disposition, in violation of N.J.S.A.2C: 20-9 and one count of second degree Theft by Deception, in violation of N.J.S.A.2C: 20-4.
Prosecutors say in the first investigation into Brower it is alleged he acted as a home contractor seeking to capitalize off of Super Storm Sandy by defrauding a victim out of over a million dollars which he received when contracted to renovate a Sandy damaged home in Toms River.
At that time the State learned of a second separate case where Brower allegedly applied for and received over $200,000.00 in public disaster relief funds that he deposited into various bank accounts rather than rehabilitating the property as required.
Brower opened the bank accounts using fraudulent information to try and fly under the radar.
He is lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending his detention hearing.
"This case highlights the flagrant extent of the 'Super Storm Sandy' fraud. Over five (5) years later people's lives are still being devastated, and unscrupulous individuals are still seeking to profit off of the misfortune of others," Prosecutor Joe Coronato said. "Along with our Sandy Fraud Task Force partners, we pledge to do all we can to find and prosecute these offenders"
"In collaboration with our federal and state partners, as well as Prosecutor Coronato and the other county prosecutors in our Sandy Fraud Task Force, we have criminally charged over 220 defendants involved in more than $13 million in alleged Sandy-related fraud in New Jersey," New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said. "This historic storm brought out the best in many, who joined efforts to assist those hardest hit, but sadly it also brought out callous predators who took advantage of victims and relief programs, as this defendant is alleged to have done. We will continue to prosecute these crimes aggressively."
The investigations were led by Detective Stephen Shadiack of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Economic Crimes Unit with legal guidance from Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jill O'Malley, Special Agents from the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Special Civil Investigator Scott Naismyth of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau.
The public is reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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