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February 22, 2013

N.J. Sues Founders of Unregistered Superstorm Sandy Charity

New Jersey’s consumer-affairs office has filed suit against a Sparta, N.J., couple who raised more than $600,000 in a Superstorm Sandy appeal but have allegedly disbursed less than 1 percent of the money, reports The Star-Ledger of Newark.

The suit accuses John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino, founders of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation, of consumer fraud and violating charity laws. The state agency says the couple funneled some of the money into personal accounts and used it pay off credit-card debit and home heating bills, among other expenses.

The foundation, which claimed charity and tax-exempt status on its Web site, had not registered with either New Jersey or the Internal Revenue Service, and had been under state investigation since December.

The newspaper's attempts to reach the couple Thursday were unsuccessful. Mr. Sandberg has said the foundation raised far more than expected and was bringing in "a more experienced board, people who've done those before."