Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced Wednesday a Pennsylvania man was charged with utilizing bogus documents to obtain $252,735 in FEMA Hurricane Sandy disaster benefits and insurance payments.
Fifty-four-year-old Nicholas Ochs of Amlber filed storm damage claim for his mother’s property in Ocean City, New Jersey in January 2013. He filed a phony application with FEMA, seeking assistance for personal property damage and federal rental assistance. He claimed the property was damaged and unfit for occupancy as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
An inspector inspected the property and determined it was in need of repairs and uninhabitable. Ochs signed the application on behalf of his mother during the inspection. Initially FEMA denied the application, because the property was covered by flood insurance, but Ochs submitted false documents indicating the insurer denied the claim, according to court documents.
Ochs submitted fraudulent documents that claimed his mother was displaced and renting another property on the same block. He faxed a bogus lease and rental receipts to FEMA from January 2013 through December 2013. He also contacted FEMA and filed a transportation assistance claim in February 2013 on behalf of his mother. He said his mother’s 1985 Mercedes Benz was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Ochs’ mother received $21,574 between February 2013 and December 2013. She also received $400,678 from her insurer and $169,518 from Wells Fargo for the value of work performed on the property.
Ochs faces a maximum 70-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.