LITTLE EGG HARBOR – A Little Egg Harbor couple was indicted by a state grand jury August 1 for allegedly defrauding over 20 people who hired them to have their homes repaired, elevated and rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy, according to the State Attorney General. The victims had paid the couple and their home improvement companies, Rayne Construction Management Services, LLC and Colmyer & Sons, LLC, more than $1 million dollars in mostly Sandy relief funds, but the work was never completed. The money was allegedly used by the couple to gamble and buy luxury goods for themselves while the victims’ homes remained in disrepair.
The couple, 41-year-old Jeffrey Colmyer and 33-year-old Tiffany Cimino, was arrested back in October 2016 after a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General and the New Jersey Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs had also previously investigated the couple and filed a civil action last year against them, claiming violations of the Consumer Fraud Act.
The hundreds of thousands of dollars Colmyer and Cimino are accused of diverting were allegedly used to make jewelry purchases by Cimino, including a $17,000 diamond ring and gambling at seven casinos in Atlantic City. The couple abandoned jobs promised to their victims or even failed to start them at all, leaving them with homes they were unable to live in. Most of the funds they stole came from the state’s largest Sandy housing recovery program, the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, which is overseen by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and financed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It provides grants to Sandy-impacted homeowners for repairs up to $150,000 that are not covered by insurance or other federal relief funds.
“Colmyer and Cimino allegedly stole $700,000 from homeowners devastated by Superstorm Sandy, ruthlessly draining away relief funds the victims needed to reclaim their lives so they could instead use the money to bankroll their own gambling and luxuries,” said State Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino in a statement. “We have prosecuted scores of defendants for various types of fraud related to Sandy, but this case is by far the most egregious.”
The couple was charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, two counts of money laundering, second-degree structuring and third-degree tampering with public records of information, as well as various third-degree counts of filing a fraudulent tax return, failure to file tax returns and failure to pay taxes.
The second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while the third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The money laundering and structuring charges carry sentences consecutive to the sentence for the theft charge, and potential additional penalties of $250,000 and $75,000, respectively.
Colmyer and Cimino both posted their $150,000 bond after their arrests and were released from jail. The Division of Consumer Affairs finished its civil action against the defendants and released an additional $776,000 in federal relief funds to the RREM recipients and alleged victims of the couple’s fraud, so that they can hire new contractors to repair their Sandy-damaged properties and finally return home.