Ocean County Woman Charged With Sandy Relief Fraud

Connian Scollon (Photo courtesy NJ AG Office)

  TRENTON – A Little Egg Harbor woman is one of four more individuals charged with filing fraudulent applications for Superstorm Sandy relief funds, announced Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. These four individuals bring the total number of defendants to 130 since March of 2014.

   “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,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We have recovered over $4 million through these prosecutions and we also have sent a strong message that should deter this type of fraud during future disaster relief efforts.”

  Connian Scollon, 56, of Little Egg Harbor, was charged with second-degree theft by deception on April 22, 2019 after she allegedly filed fraudulent Sandy relief applications for state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP) and Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program.

  According to Grewal, Scollon allegedly received $167,831 in relief funds to which she was not entitled. Scollon received a $10,000 RSP grant and $157,831 in RREM grant funds. 

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  It is alleged that Scollon claimed that a home she owns on East Shrewsbury Drive in Little Egg Harbor Township, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was her primary residence at the time Sandy struck. Her primary residence at the time of the storm was actually in Hatboro, PA. The house in Little Egg Harbor Township was a secondary residence. 

The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in the Brick area. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  Also charged were:

  • 68-year old Robert Girardo of Ocean City, NJ, who received $130,347 in relief funds to which he was not entitled.
  • 58-year old Rosemary Flannery of New York, NY who received $124,151 in relief funds to which she was not entitled, and
  • 59-year old Cynthia Hildebrandt of Wharton, NJ who received $80,358 in relief funds to which she was not entitled. 

  All four individuals were charged with second-degree theft by deception, which carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. 

  “Through this historic anti-fraud program, we have filed criminal charges against 130 defendants who allegedly were responsible for fraudulently diverting a total of nearly $9 million in relief funds after Superstorm Sandy,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This collaborative state and federal initiative will undoubtedly serve as a model for other jurisdictions that face these issues in future disaster relief efforts.”

  According to Attorney General Grewal, all 130 individuals charged were allegedly responsible for diverting nearly $9 million in relief funds. Law enforcement continues to investigate fraud in Sandy relief programs, working jointly with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), and the Offices of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Also assisting the taskforce is the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller, New Jersey Department of the Treasury Office of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the non-profit National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).