TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Bergen County man has been indicted for allegedly stealing two vehicles, numerous high-wattage portable generators, jackhammers, and various other equipment, and fencing three of those generators in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
Louis R. Milito, 40, whose last known residence was in Edgewater, N.J., was charged yesterday (April 24) with second-degree theft by unlawful taking, third-degree issuing bad checks, and third-degree fencing.
“By selling much-coveted generators that he knew were stolen, this defendant illegally profited from Superstorm Sandy, a catastrophic phenomenon that left so many people in New Jersey devastated,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “This office has devoted much time and many resources investigating and prosecuting those who used Superstorm Sandy for their own financial gains, and we will continue to do so for as long as it takes to root out such criminal behavior.”
“As it has since Superstorm Sandy hit, the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor will continue to work hand-in-hand with insurance companies to identify fraudulent insurance claims so that valuable resources are not diverted for illegal purposes,” Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi said.
The state grand jury indictment alleges that between Nov. 9, 2011 and Dec. 17, 2012, Milito stole equipment and vehicles valued at approximately $130,908, including a 2012 Dodge Ram, a 2011 Toyota Sienna, nine generators, four demolition hammers, three breaker hammers, four brute hammers, and various other expensive power tools, that he rented from a variety of different rental car companies and industrial power-tool rental companies throughout New Jersey. The companies were located in Morris, Hudson, Bergen, Sussex, Warren, Essex and Hunterdon Counties, as well as in Elmsford, N.Y., and Ridgewood, N.Y. An investigation by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Milito allegedly rented the equipment and subsequently reported much of it stolen to police so that he would not have to return it to the companies.
The indictment further alleges that between Oct. 29, 2012, the day that Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, and Jan. 28, 2013, Milito trafficked three of the stolen generators, which had a total value of approximately $12,563.
In addition, the indictment alleges that between January and April 2012, Milito issued five checks, worth a total of approximately $7,906 drawn in his own name and in the name of his company, ACS Industries, knowing that the bank would not honor the checks. The investigation determined that he wrote these checks to rent equipment.
The state’s investigation began after Milito was charged in multiple counties with third-degree theft offenses pertaining to some of the above equipment. Deputy Attorney General T.J. Harker and Detective Wendy Berg superseded these cases and expanded the investigation to include many additional pieces of equipment identified after broadcasting an alert to law enforcement authorities across the entire state.
Deputy Attorney General Harker and Detective Berg coordinated the investigation. Sgt. Jarek Pyrzanowski assisted in the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi thanked Detective Bryan Van Wettering of the Edgewater Police Department, Sergeant Edward Zloty of the Secaucus Police Department, Detective James Mandeville, of the Pequannock Police Department, Lieutenant Michael Reilly, Sergeant Shawn Bates, and Detective Joseph Mathews of the Mansfield Township Police Department, Detective Doug Williams of the Ridgewood Police Department, and Officer Timothy Pittarese of the Readington Township Police Department, and Officer Michael Rohlls of the East Hanover Police Department. Chillemi also thanked Travelers Insurance Company for their assistance in the investigation.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi urges people who are concerned about insurance cheating related to Superstorm Sandy and who have information about a fraud to report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or by visiting the web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.