New Jersey motel owner admits stealing Superstorm Sandy funds

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- A New Jersey motel owner has admitted stealing more than $80,000 in federal disaster relief funds by falsely claiming he had sheltered Superstorm Sandy victims.

Sandipkumar Patel pleaded guilty Monday to theft by deception. The Edison man faces three years in state prison when he's sentenced Nov. 4.

RELATED: Dozens charged with Sandy fraud since 2014

State Attorney General Christopher Porrino says Patel fraudulently took $81,567 from a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that paid hotels and motels for rooms temporarily occupied by victims.

Patel and his wife own the American Motel in Toms River.

Authorities say Patel falsely billed FEMA for 11 supposed victims, including eight of whom never stayed at the motel. The three others stayed for shorter periods than were billed or shared a room that Patel had already billed to FEMA.