A Seaside Heights building contractor has been charged with money laundering and multiple theft counts following a joint federal-state-county investigation.
Robert William Brower, Jr., 45, of Seaside Heights, was the subject of an 18-month-long investigation, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the case. The prosecutor’s office was assisted in the investigation by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau.
Brower’s arrest, prosecutors say, stems from two separate “extensive fraud investigations into Brower’s post Sandy activities,” according to a statement. In the first investigation it is alleged that Brower acted as a home contractor seeking to capitalize off Sandy by defrauding a victim out of over $1 million which he received when he was hired to renovate a Sandy-damaged home in Toms River.
During the course of that investigation, the state learned of a second, separate case where Brower allegedly applied for and received over $200,000 in public disaster relief funds that he deposited into various bank accounts rather than rehabilitating the property as required. Brower opened the bank accounts using fraudulent information in order to thwart law enforcement detection, prosecutors allege.
“This case highlights the flagrant extent of the Superstorm Sandy fraud,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato. “Over five (5) years later people’s lives are still being devastated, and unscrupulous individuals are still seeking to profit off of the misfortune of others.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said the state has prosecuted over 220 defendants involved in more than $13 million in alleged Sandy-related fraud in New Jersey.
“This historic storm brought out the best in many, who joined efforts to assist those hardest hit, but sadly it also brought out callous predators who took advantage of victims and relief programs, as this defendant is alleged to have done,” said Grewal. “We will continue to prosecute these crimes aggressively.”
A number of law enforcement agencies, with assistance from the Ocean County Sheriff’s Warrants Division and the U.S. Marshals, located and arrested Brower at about 9:30 pm Monday at a Waters Edge Drive residence in Toms River. He is lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending his detention hearing.
The sheriff’s office was credited with located Brower.