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Contractor hit with fraud charges over post-Sandy work

NEWARK, N.J. >> A contractor who performed work on Superstorm Sandy-damaged homes pressured customers into signing contracts and then performed shoddy work it failed to correct, state prosecutors alleged today.

State Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced charges against Jersey Pride Home Renovations of Mullica Hill and its owner, William Wolford.

The Ocean County-based company used deceptive practices to obtain nearly $350,000 in federal relief funds from nine homeowners, the complaint alleged, often by pressuring customers into signing agreements with assertions that a quoted price was only available for 48 hours.

Reached by phone today, Wolford referred questions to his attorney, who didn’t immediately return a phone message.

The complaint also alleged the company performed home elevations without being legally registered for that type of work; did substandard work that didn’t pass municipal inspections and didn’t fix the problems; abandoned one job without finishing the promised work; and delayed obtaining necessary permits, effectively displacing homeowners for longer time periods.

“More than five years after Superstorm Sandy, some New Jersey residents are still suffering from its devastation,” Porrino said in a statement. “Deceiving and profiting from displaced homeowners by making false promises is a cruel abuse and will not be tolerated.”

The complaint seeks to have the company pay back homeowners, return federal funds and pay civil penalties.

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