DOJ sues New York over FEMA claims related to Sandy

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sued New York City Wednesday over its claims to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricane Sandy. 

The lawsuit, which was filed in the federal court for the Southern District of New York, is seeking damages and civil penalties tied to the DOJ’s allegations that the city falsified damages in a report to FEMA following the hurricane. 

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“The City falsely certified that Sandy had directly caused all of the damage and replacement costs. In fact, many of the vehicles identified in the [project worksheet] were damaged and/or inoperable long before Sandy, and thus ineligible for indemnification,” the DOJ claims.

“FEMA paid [the New York City Department of Transportation] NYCDOT millions of dollars to replace vehicles that were ineligible for indemnification because they were not damaged by Sandy. FEMA would not have agreed to pay NYCDOT any of these funds had it known that the certifications were false and that many of the vehicles listed ... were ineligible for indemnification.” 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and the New York City Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

The lawsuit says New York City requested $12,758,664 to replace 132 vehicles that had been damaged “beyond repair” as a result of the hurricane, including passenger vehicles, heavy equipment and commercial vehicles. It notes that the city sent a second certification confirming the damages reported were direct results of Sandy.

The DOJ claims that the Department of Transportation officials who filed the claims either did so knowing they were false or made the certifications “with reckless disregard or willful blindness as to their truth or falsity.” 

The 2012 storm, which was the worst the Northeast had seen in years, resulted in 43 deaths in New York City, power outages impacting 2 million people and about $19 billion in property damage.