By John Burton
NEWARK — A state law enforcement sting operation, investigating fraud by home contractors looking to work on a Super Storm Sandy-damaged Highlands home, has led to four contractors being criminally charged and four others facing civil complaints.
The eight contractors responded to a request for estimates for a severely damaged home, located on Highlands’ Second Street. Investigators found the contractors were operating allegedly without the necessary state registration, according to the state’s Office of the Attorney General.
The Rev Victor McGookin III, 53, Seaside Park; Michael Kaufmann, 48, Philadelphia, Pa.; Jason Storey, 46, South Orange; and Anthony DiVito, 61, Fanwood were charged by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Division of Criminal Justice with engaging in home improvement contracting without being registered, which is a fourth-degree crime.
Darrell Sorger, 43, Toms River; Robert Mazzeo, 33, Keyport; Derrick Scott, 54, Matawan; and Sebastiao Bonato, 54, Long Branch, were issued notices of violation for unregistered practice of home improvements by the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
Both the criminal and civil complaints are violations of the state Home Improvement Contractors’ Registration Act.
A statewide group working to combat Sandy-related fraud has used undercover investigators, posing as homeowners or their relatives, to solicit estimates from contractors for the home made available to the investigators.