Two men from out of state are the latest to find themselves in trouble with the law after committing an act of theft related to Superstorm Sandy repairs in New Jersey.

On Tuesday, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer announced that 57-year-old John Bishop of Celebration, Florida, and his business partner, 50-year-old Paul Rueda of San Diego, Texas both pleaded guilty to Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition.

We are approaching the 10-year anniversary of when Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore in so many ways and in the time since the storm hit, there has been and still is a need for repairs.

Sadly, during this same period of time, there have been numerous contractors who have taken advantage of unsuspecting victims and either not done the work they were tasked and hired to do or in cases like this, stolen monetarily from people.

Bishop and Rueda ran their heists from October 2014 and May 2017 stealing funds through their contractor business, 'John Paul Building, LLC' that they operated during that time after forming the business in November of 2012, according to Prosecutor Billhimer.

They victimized six homeowners during that stretch across Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit learned through their investigation.

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Bishop and Rueda allegedly entered into contracts with their business, John Paul Builders, LLC, with the task of repairing the homes of the people who hired them and even collected more than $350,000 in payments, which both men said they would use to complete the projects, according to Prosecutor Billhimer.

As is the case in other instances of fraud and theft, Bishop and Rueda was paid but did little to no work and then suddenly the company disbanded.

Then Rueda decided to form a new business, 'PKR Construction', and when doing so continued to run his scheme by entering into contracts with four homeowners between July 2016 and May 2017, and his new business was paid $363,575 by the homeowners.

Some work was done by the company but ultimately, Rueda never completed the projects.

When sentencing takes place for both men on July 15, Prosecutor Billhimer said that the State will recommend a term of four years in prison for Bishop and five years in prison for Rueda.

In addition, Bishop will pay $178,425 in restitution to the victims as part of a plea agreement and Rueda will do the same but in the amount of $542,800.

Prosecutor Billhimer said that Ocean County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Heisler is handling the case on behalf of the State.

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