Lodi, N.J. -- A 74-year-old retired Fair Lawn teacher collected $177,439 in taxpayer-funded Superstorm Sandy relief by claiming her damaged Jersey Shore home as her primary residence, state authorities charged.
The home that Diane DiCosmo owns on Melody Lane in Lavallette that was damaged by the historic storm is actually a summer/weekend property, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Her real home was in Fair Lawn when DiCosmo received approximately $6,515 from FEMA, $160,924 in RREM grant funds, and a $10,000 RSP grant by lying on relief applications, Grewal said.
DiCosmo, who taught at St. Anne's School in Fair Lawn for several years, was charged with theft by deception and released her pending a hearing.
Since March 2014, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has filed criminal charges against 112 people, including DiCosmo, who Grewal said collected a combined $6 million in relief funds that they weren't entitled to.
“Any fraud against public assistance programs is deplorable, but these thefts were especially egregious because they diverted funds intended for victims left homeless by one of the most devastating storms in New Jersey history,” the attorney general said.
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