TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Two contractors who were charged in connection with stealing from victims of Hurricane Sandy have pled guilty.
According to authorities, John Bishop, 57, of Celebration, Florida and Paul Rueda, 50, of San Diego, Texas, pled guilty to Theft By Failure to Make Required Disposition.
The guilty pleas are connected to allegations that the two stole funds through contractor businesses they ran in Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties from October 2014 to May 2017.
Authorities say Bishop and Rueda formed John Paul Building LLC in November 2012 and received more than $350,000 from six homeowners in the various counties to have their homes repaired after Hurricane Sandy.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer's office says little to no work was done on the homes and the company disbanded without returning any funds to the homeowners.
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Officials also say between July 2016 and May 2017, Rueda started agreements with four homeowners under a new business called PKR Construction.
The homeowners paid the company $363,575 for construction projects on their properties and although some work was completed, Rueda converted the money into his personal use and benefit and did not finish the projects.
State prosecutors are recommending a term of four years in New Jersey State Prison for Bishop and five years for Rueda, according to Billhimer's office.
Additionally, as part of plea deals, Bishop must pay $178,425 to his victims and Rueda must pay $542,800 to the defrauded homeowners.