Jury finds Hoboken cop, wife guilty of Sandy relief fraud
A police officer and his wife have been convicted of stealing $187,000 in federal Superstorm Sandy relief funds to repair their vacation home on the Jersey Shore.
Hoboken officer Nikola Lulaj, 45, and his wife, Majlinda, 32, face lengthy prison terms when they're sentenced in January. The couple was convicted by an Ocean County jury on Thursday of conspiracy, theft by deception and six counts of unsworn falsification.
Officials say the couple falsely claimed their Webster Avenue home in Seaside Heights was their primary residence when the storm hit in October 2012. They say the couple lived in Dumont at the time, although they now live in the Seaside Heights home.
Nikola Lulaj must forfeit his job due to the conviction.
“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,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “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.”
The state Attorney General's Office has charged more than 120 people with fraud related to Sandy relief programs and recovered more than $2 million.