New Jersey Cop and Wife Guilty of Stealing Federal Relief Funds

Nikola Lulaj, 45, and his wife, Majlinda Lulaj, 32, were convicted of conspiracy, theft by deception, and six counts of fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

JERSEY CITY — A Hoboken police officer and his wife were convicted of stealing $187,000 in federal relief funds to repair a home they owned in Seaside Heights after Superstorm Sandy, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Thursday.

An Ocean County jury found that Hoboken Police Officer Nikola Lulaj, 45, and Majlinda Lulaj, 32, falsely claimed that the Seaside Heights home was their primary residence at the time of the storm, when in fact they lived in Dumont, Grewal.

“For a police officer to commit this type of fraud is particularly egregious, because officers take an oath to uphold the law and we rightly hold them to the highest standards,” Grewal said in a statement.

The pair was convicted of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by deception, and six counts of fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, third-degree offenses carry a sentence of three to five years and fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up 18 months, Grewal said.

The attorney general also noted that Nikola Lulaj will no longer be able to hold public employment. His job status as a result of the conviction was not immediately available from the Hoboken Police Department.

The state Attorney General’s Office has charged over 120 defendants with fraud related to Sandy relief programs for allegedly diverting more than $8 million in relief funds.

Lulajs were tried before Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney. They are slated to be sentenced in January on a date to be determined.

“When disaster strikes, we cannot allow dishonest applicants to divert disaster relief funds from the intended recipients – namely, those victims whose primary homes were destroyed or damaged,” Grewal said.