A man accused of scamming the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of more than $12,000 was indicted on Monday.
William Nagle, 51, of Sea Bright, NJ, is accused of exploiting FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program after Superstorm Sandy caused flooding in his apartment complex. Police say the storm caused flooding in the first floor of his complex on Center Street in Sea Bright back on October 29, 2012. While Nagle’s third floor apartment was not damaged, Nagle and other tenants were temporarily displaced pending repairs.
In Sandy’s aftermath, FEMA opened several disaster recovery centers in Monmouth County. FEMA’s TSA program provided immediate short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose communities were either uninhabitable or inaccessible due to damage. The program allowed the survivors to stay in hotels or motels for a limited time while FEMA covered the cost. The displaced residents then returned to their homes once they were fully repaired.
Police say Nagle began participating in the TSA program on November 13, 2012. On December 29 however, police say Nagle’s third floor apartment received a Certificate of Occupancy from the Borough of Sea Bright, which allowed him to return to his home. Police also say the owner/landlord of Nagle’s apartment complex gave him a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy. According to investigators, Nagle’s apartment had heat, running water and electricity.
Despite this, Nagle allegedly continued to participate in the TSA program. Police say Nagle repeatedly submitted forms of assistance to FEMA, never notifying them that he could return home.
In February of 2013, investigators say the Monmouth County Superstorm Sandy Fraud Task Force received information on Nagle connecting him to fraud. Police say their investigation revealed that Nagle had exploited FEMA for around $12,114.25 to pay for 68 nights of lodging at several hotels between January 14 and March 23. Those hotels included the Sheraton, Comfort Inn and Courtyard by Marriot, according to investigators.
Nagle was arrested on May 22 and charged with third-degree Theft by Deception. He is currently being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $5,000 bail. On Monday, he was indicted by a grand jury. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
“Being a victim does not open the door to defraud the government in times of need,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni. “We can all pull together in times of crisis to help one another, but that combined effort to aid and assist comes with the understanding that no one will take advantage of the situation.”