State authorities have sued the operators of a purported Superstorm Sandy charity who they said steered donations into their personal accounts and stole the name of New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie’s Hurricane Sandy Relief charity to do so.
Although the sham Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation claims all donations provide “immediate” relief to Sandy victims, the group has only given out $1,650 in gift cards during the three and a half months of its existence – an amount representing less than one percent of the $631,000 HSRF has raised in donations, state authorities said in a lawsuit filed today in Superior Court in Hackensack.
Financial records show that John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino used the money to pay off credit cards, to have dinner at Vivo Tapas in Newark (among other restaurants), to buy a Christmas tree, to shop at the Apple online store and for other personal uses, state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said this afternoon.
Terracino, 27, formerly of South Hackensack, posted the photo above on her personal Facebook page yesterday (the page was taken down late today). She and Sandberg listed the HSRF on Facebook as based in the borough, with an 800 phone number.
The couple, who live in Sparta, used the Wyckoff address of Sandberg’s parents to file their application as a state charity, records show.
On it, they claimed that the HSRF didn’t provide any compensation to its officers, directors, trustees, or executive staff, court papers allege.
However, the two “transferred more than $3,000 from the ‘Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation ’s PayPal account to ‘Jezel Yepez,’ an alias for Anthony Yepez, despite the defendants’ representations to the Division [of Consumer Affairs] that he was a ‘volunteer’ for the organization,” Chiesa said. READ MORE....