JERSEY SHORE – Two contractors have pled guilty to stealing funds from Superstorm Sandy victims through their contracting businesses, officials said.
John Bishop, 57, of Celebration, Florida, and his business partner, Paul Rueda, 50, of San Diego, Texas, both pled guilty to Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition in connection to the thefts made between October 2014 and May 2017 in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.
Bishop and Rueda formed John Paul Building, LLC, in November 2012 and six homeowners throughout the area entered into contracts with the company to repair their homes following Superstorm Sandy.
In total, the homeowners paid John Paul Builders, LLC, in excess of $350,000, which Bishop and Rueda agreed to use to complete the projects. However, the homeowners received little to no work on their projects and later the company disbanded without returning any of the funds, officials said.
In addition, Rueda entered in agreements with four additional homeowners under his newly formed contracting business, PKR Construction, between July 2016 and May 2017.
The homeowners paid PKR Construction a total of $363,575 toward construction projects on their properties. Some work was completed, but Rueda converted the victims’ funds to his own personal use and benefit, and failed to complete the projects, officials said.
Bishop is facing four years in New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) and Rueda is facing five years in NJSP. As part of their plea agreements, Bishop has agreed to pay $178,425 in restitution to the victims; Rueda has agreed to pay $542,800 in restitution to the victims.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer acknowledged the efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Heisler who is handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit, Little Egg Harbor Police Department, Brick Township Police Department, Point Pleasant Borough Police Department, and Middletown Township Police Department, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Bishop’s and Rueda’s guilty pleas, and soon their state prison sentences.