A Staten Island, N.Y., couple was charged with making false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in connection with their obtaining more than $750,000 in disaster relief from New York City’s Build It Back program (BIB) and FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Nagwa Elsilimy and Ahmed Arafa allegedly misrepresented that a home in Staten Island, which they had abandoned months before the storm, was their primary residence at the time the superstorm devastated New York and New Jersey.
The defendants fraudulently obtained more than $750,000 in aid intended for people displaced by the storm.
According to the federal criminal complaint, the couple obtained and attempted to obtain federal funds appropriated for Sandy disaster relief by submitting material misrepresentations in their applications for disaster relief. Specifically, the defendants falsely represented that a home they abandoned before the storm was their primary residence at the time Sandy hit the Eastern District of New York. The defendants had been residing at a different address since at least March 2012, and, at the time Sandy struck Staten Island, the defendants’ alleged primary residence was vacant, and had been vacant for at least seven months. Evidence obtained in the investigation suggests that the defendants fraudulently obtained federal aid totaling more than $750,000 based upon their misrepresentations in applications to FEMA, HUD and BIB, the New York City program established with federal funds to aid residents in rebuilding private homes damaged or destroyed due to Hurricane Sandy.
If convicted, the couple faces a statutory maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment for major disaster relief fraud and five years’ imprisonment for making false statements to a federal agency.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
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