A 45-year-old Dumont man was forced to forfeit his position as a Hoboken police officer after he and his wife were found guilty of collecting $187,000 by lying on superstorm Sandy relief applications, authorities charged.
Nikola Lulaj and Majlinda Lulaj, 32, falsely claimed in their applications that their home in Seaside Heights -- which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy -- was their primary residence at the time the disaster struck, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Their primary residence, however, was in Dumont, and the Seaside Heights home was a rental property, the attorney general said.
The couple -- who have since moved to the Seaside Heights home -- was convicted by an Ocean City jury of of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by deception, and six counts of fourth-degree unsworn falsification, Grewal said.
“For a police officer to commit this type of fraud is particularly egregious, because officers take an oath to uphold the law and we rightly hold them to the highest standards,” Grewal said. “When disaster strikes, we cannot allow dishonest applicants to divert disaster relief funds from the intended recipients – namely, those victims whose primary homes were destroyed or damaged.”
As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, the Lulajs received $2,820 from FEMA, $90,200 in SBA loan proceeds, a $69,054 RREM grant, a $10,000 RSP grant and a $15,000 SHRAP grant.
Sentencing will be in January.
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