New Jersey’s plan to rely on private inspectors to provide much of the oversight for how federal funds are spent to rebuild after superstorm Sandy differs significantly from the approach in Gulf Coast states, which created semi-permanent offices that are still keeping tabs on spending related to hurricanes more than seven years ago.
Mississippi’s state auditor, for instance, used some of the state’s federal recovery funds to create a fraud unit still wrapping up cases sprung by Hurricane Katrina, which struck in 2005. Among the frauds detected was a women who subleased her modular home “Katrina cottage” to a daughter, who subleased it to a boyfriend who was operating a meth lab, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said.
“You’re going to be amazed at the effort and energy people put into defrauding the public, their neighbors and friends,” Pickering said. “You’re going to see those kinds of issues. And then you’re going to see people who get held up in the process who aren’t getting the aid and the assistance that they truly deserve and need.”