David Scott Ruddy, 33, of Metuchen, pleaded guilty on October 8 third-degree theft by deception, according to a press release from the NJ Office of the Attorney General.
Ruddy stole $55,000 from 13 victims, six of which he met while they were taking refuge in New Brunswick and Old Bridge shelters following Hurricane Sandy, according to the release.
He impersonated emergency relief workers, offering low-cost cars and housing, before taking money from the victims and pocketing it, according to the release.
Not all of Ruddy's victims were affected by the hurricane, but he used similar scams on all, the release said. He rented a Rahway Avenue office space in where he brought victims to sign fake contracts, the release said.
He was arrested on Jan. 26, 2013 and jailed in the Middlesex County Jail since that time in connection with fugitive warrants related to criminal charges filed against him in Georgia, the release said.
In addition to the prison term, Ruddy must pay restitution to all of his victims, according to the release.
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman called Ruddy's actions "despicable."
“He gained the trust of his
victims by posing as a rescue worker, only to steal their money and
leave them in an even more desperate state," Hoffman said, in a prepared statement. "This prison sentence serves as a warning to any other predators who would consider exploiting disaster victims.”
Ruddy had also pleaded guilty on Oct. 8 to a third-degree charge of theft by deception in relation to four other victims he scammed out of a car and more than $30,000, the release said.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for that charge, and must pay restitution to those victims as well.
The two prison terms are to run concurrently, the release said.