NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An FDNY firefighter and his wife stood accused Monday of lying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to collect thousands of dollars in Superstorm Sandy benefits.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, 12-year FDNY veteran Christopher Poje, 43, and his wife, Margaret, 39, walked out of court in Queens after their arraignment Monday afternoon,
Christopher and Margaret Poje both face grand larceny charges, while Margaret Poje also faces forgery charges.
She said, “No thank you,” when asked to comment.
Disheveled in sweat pants as they appeared in court, the couple is a while away from where the investigation first started.
According to the Queens District Attorney’s office, an 89th Street home in Howard Beach, where Margaret Poje allegedly claimed to FEMA that the couple lived in 2012.
A criminal complaint alleged that Margaret Poje filed parperwork to FEMA showing Superstorm Sandy forced them out of their home, and submitted receipts for rentals and repairs.
FEMA reimbursed them more than $19,000.
When CBS2 showed neighbors on 89th Street a photo of the couple, they repeated what the Queens DA alleged – Christopher and Margret Poje do not actually live there.
Just down the block, residents of 86th Street said the couple actually lives there, which was what the complaint accused. The complaint also accuses that Margaret Poje forged realty signatures to re ceive Sandy reimbursement from FEMA.
“To have a firefighter in this neighborhood lying and saying they live in the wrong house to get funds from the other people in New York City that really need those funds, that’s a huge problem,” said a neighbor named Joseph.”
The couple could be facing up to seven years in prison.
“We’ll let the system play itself out,” said defense attorney Steven Houlihan. “We’re confident my client will be exonerated.”
The Pojes were released on recognizance after their court hearing Monday. The FDNY said Christopher Poje has the maximum suspension of 30 days without pay.