By John Burton
FREEHOLD – A Middletown woman was arrested Wednesday and charged with defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of $12,000 in disaster relief, claiming her primary residence had been damaged by Sandy.
Colleen Bowers, 32, was charged with third-degree theft by deception for allegedly applying to FEMA, claiming a home she owned in the Port Monmouth section was her primary residence, when she was actually renting the home, according to Charles Webster, public information officer for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
The situation came to light and was investigated by the prosecutor’s office’s Super Storm Sandy Fraud Task Force when the tenants renting Bowers’ home on Griggs Avenue in Port Monmouth applied to FEMA for disaster relief following the October 2012 storm. They were denied because their landlord had already applied, Webster said.
The tenants told authorities that at no time did Bowers live in the home while they were renting and they would deliver the monthly rent to Bowers’ Highlands address.
Bowers remains free, with no bail set at this time pending a future court date, Webster said.
If convicted of the fraud charge Bowers could face a maximum penalty of five years in state prison, according to authorities.