Hurricane Sandy Con Artist Spent Weeks Fooling Shelter Volunteers

Victims of Hurricane Sandy weren't the only ones taken in by David Scott Ruddy. A shelter survivor was the one who turned Ruddy in after officials ignored her pleas.

When David Scott Ruddy was arrested for allegedly flimflamming Hurricane Sandy victims out of $50,000 in FEMA funds, there was one person who not only knew who he was, but had been calling and warning officials about him for months.

That was Kathleen Marchitto, who met Ruddy first at a shelter put up for Jersey Shore and other victims, and then later when she and other hurricane victims were moved to a Red Cross shelter set up at Livingston College of Rutgers University in Piscataway.

Marchitto, whose apartment was flooded during the October hurricane, was at the Livingston College shelter for three weeks, and for the entire time she was there, Ruddy was there.

"I knew there was something about him I didn't like. He was so persistent. He never gave up," Marchitto said.

It turns out Marchitto was right.

When the news came out that Ruddy had been arrested, not only was Marchitto not surprised, it was the information she had turned over to the NJ Attorney General's Office that got the ball moving. 

'He had full run' of the shelter

Ruddy was arrested in Woodbridge on January 26 on 11 counts of theft by deception and 3 counts of impersonation. He's being held without bail at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Facility in North Brunswick.

What Marchitto couldn't understand, though, was that when Ruddy was roaming around the campus shelter, he "was given full run of the place."

"No one stopped him. He said he was a police officer, then a bail bondsman, then a FEMA official. No one checked him out," Marchitto said in frustration.

"He was the go-to guy. He had access to private areas where only officials were supposed to go. No one stopped him. In fact, if anyone needed help, they were referred to Ruddy," she said.

The one thing that particularly freaked out Marchitto was when she went to her new home in New Brunswick, Ruddy called her on an unlisted phone number.

A domestic violence victim in the past, Marchitto said she is very strict about who gets her phone number. She couldn't figure out how else Ruddy would've gotten it, except by the close interaction he had with Livingston shelter officials and the freedom she says they gave him to go where he wanted and do what he liked.

"He kept asking me how much money I got from FEMA," Marchitto said. "I refused to tell him. It was none of his business."

Former neighbors of hers, though, were scammed by Ruddy. Some, she said, were particularly vulnerable. "Some of the people had mental issues and they would be easily taken in by someone like Ruddy," Marchitto said.

Neighbors taken in by scam

She began getting calls from some of the neighbors in January, when they found out Ruddy had taken their money and disappeared.

One neighbor was a young man who needed his car replaced. Ruddy took almost $4,800 and gave the man nothing. Another neighbor had given $900 to Ruddy to sublet an apartment Ruddy said he had in Woodbridge.

Ruddy gave the man a key and the address. When the victim showed up, the key didn't fit the lock, and Ruddy was gone, Marchitto said.

What Marchitto said she couldn't understand was why no one in authority ran a background check on Ruddy. 

"I'm no detective, but I did a simple Google search of him and I found mugshots of him and information on his activities," she said. 

Ruddy's mugshot is available online for apparently failing appear in court in Palm Beach County, FL in 2011.

Shelter offficials didn't know about con artist

One official in on the local Ruddy investigation said the man "scammed a lot of people. He was devious and got around people, but he also acted like he knew what he was doing."

"How often do you get someone who acts so authoritatively and winds up being a complete fraud?"

Some of the people Ruddy took in included Red Cross officials at the Livingston shelter site, members of the Old Bridge Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and a member of the Rutgers University Police Department, according to Marchitto.

Old Bridge Police Lieut. Robert Greenaway, who handles the township's CERT activities, remembered Ruddy, but said the man had nothing to do with them officially.

In fact, Ruddy had wanted to join the Old Bridge CERT team, he said.

"He was all gung-ho to join. I thought something was wrong when he approached me, and I told him to fill out an application if he wanted to join OB CERT," Greenaway said. "He refused to fill one out.

"We would've caught him if he had filled out an application, because you have to give your Social Security number."

Ruddy had nothing to do with the CERT team, he said.

Now residing in an apartment in New Brunswick after having lost her South River home, Marchitto took notes during the time she was at the Livingston shelter. She wrote down names of people who heavily interacted with Ruddy, and she said, when she went back to ask officials in charge of hurricane relief why they didn't question or investigate Ruddy, she couldn't get any answers.

"I hold them responsible. They were in charge. They should've investigated him and done something," Marchitto said. "I reported it to FEMA and the Red Cross. They weren't interested in the least. They said he didn't take anything from you, so what's the big deal?" 

Rutgers cop won't talk

One in particular, a police officer with the Rutgers police department, even denied having known Ruddy, Marchitto recalled. 

Marchitto identified the Rutgers officer as Emma O'Flanigan. 

Reached at Rutgers, O'Flanigan would only say she wasn't authorized to talk about Ruddy, and passed the call onto Rutgers police officials. They did not return phone calls.

The Red Cross, which was involved in the shelter, had no official comment on the particulars of Ruddy. 

" The Red Cross is looking into the situation," said Red Cross spokeswoman Diane Concannn. "Because it's an ongoing criminal case, all questions should be directed to local law enforcement."

At the end of the emergency when things were being wrapped up at the Livingston shelter, Ruddy didn't seem to want to leave, Greenaway said.

"He was one of the last people to leave the shelter. He was kind of hanging around. He didn't want to go home," Greenaway said. "I told my sergeant, something is up with this guy."

Marchitto contacted the Old Bridge police about a month ago, Greenaway said, and gave them the information she had found on Ruddy. "That's when our sergeant contacted Woodbridge [police]. We found out he was doing the same thing in New Brunswick. Within a week it all jelled together" and Ruddy was arrested, he said.

"He was a con artist. I never bought into it," Greenaway said. "It's crazy how he preyed on people."

See "Police Nab Impersonator Who Allegedly Scammed Hurricane Sandy Victims" for previous story.

barbara February 16, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Way to go Kathleen!! These "officials" have some explaining to do for sure...unbelievable.
1stcav February 16, 2013 at 07:53 PM
This is why someone thought of different use's for piano wire , string him up by the Ball$....Duh !
suz February 16, 2013 at 09:32 PM
The saddest part about all this...he is most likely only one of the hundreds who are and did the same thing. He is, so far, the only one who got caught at his own game.
Linda Lil February 16, 2013 at 10:32 PM
I would advise Kathleen to take her photo off the site. another note: I had been scammed when I had a house fire and have a judgement against the crook but could never collect as he is a scam artist and still scamming the officials. Sad that someone would take advantage of others in crisis. I am very cautious now. I have not even had my home repaired from the storm damage yet as I am afraid to hire a contractor. I thank God everyday my home is livable and the damage is minor..... I am waiting for ????? I am waiting to find someone I can trust for sure. waiting and waiting...... I am thinking those who are reputable are busy working on homes damaged by the storm. I am waiting and hoping to find someone to fix my roof and siding.... maybe this summer??? Best wishes Kathleen and great job!
Lincoln Osiris February 17, 2013 at 05:19 AM
Sadly this type of con happens all the time. The names and situations change but the con is always the same. Stafford Twp. NJ mayor John Spodofora has been pulling a con game on the locals for many years. He claims he is the "Jon" in the famous RonJon surf shop. That was a lie. He has claimed to be a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. That was a lie. He has claimed to be an environmental engineer. Another lie. These con artists com from all sectors. Like the old saying goes: If it sounds too good to be true it probably isn't.
john February 17, 2013 at 11:24 AM
always beware of a good deal.... imo google anyone your going to get involved with, you never know what you might learn about that person. there are so many scams out there..... this is why banks are putting lenghty holds on deposits, counterfeit checks are a big problem too. glad to hear mr rudy got caught.... thanks kathleen for reporting him....
CJ February 17, 2013 at 01:39 PM
How about the scam artists in Beach Haven West who grossly overcharged people to 'cut & gut' the first floor of your house? My family was charged $10,000 for about 980 sq ft. At the time, I was told that was a steal by the contractor!
Richard J. Thomas February 17, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Throw his nasty ass in the slammer for a few years.
Amy Cavanaugh February 17, 2013 at 02:53 PM
There are so many like him. Thank God this one got caught. Awesome detective work Kathleen!!!! WTG!!!!
grace February 17, 2013 at 03:29 PM
grace February 17, 2013 at 03:29 PM
great job kathleen they ought to hire you for town council
just sayin' February 17, 2013 at 09:00 PM
"How often do you get someone who acts so authoritatively and winds up being a complete fraud?" A quote from a local official...what planet does he live on?? I guess he's never met a politician. Great work on Kathleen's part.
thomas gerrard February 17, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Yes it was on point that she smelled a rat. Be vigilant....
Forked River Piney February 17, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Towns that employed debris-removal contractors other than a state-hired Florida firm achieved savings that, when totaled, amount to millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Florida-based AshBritt Inc. charged towns $21.25 per cubic yard to gather roadside debris and bring it to a collection site within 15 miles. That was nearly double the $11.70 asking price of another Florida company, Bergeron, and other firms, records show Talk about a con artist Gilmore and Christie
mineeeemoh February 18, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Their friends too?
Mary E Rowlands February 18, 2013 at 03:10 AM
Do they have the death penalty or life imprisonment for such as this?
1stcav February 18, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Bed buddies...
Horacio piccininno February 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Not his first scam, he left a trail of unpaid rents and purchases years ago when he claimed to be a pastor and rented our church building. He is unbelievably believable. He lies with such ease and so convincing
John February 18, 2013 at 01:54 PM
$11.70 goes to AshBritt and the rest goes to kick backs!!!!!!
Gsieri Builders February 19, 2013 at 10:58 PM
This happens too often as a contractor we see this a lot in our business. Every time our company meets with potential future clients we make sure we give our credentials and encourage them to investigate us. The horror stories we all hear about people like this taking advantage of our neighbors is a disgrace. There are so many people that need help and to take advantage of others while were fighting to fix our community is very sad.
CPOTom February 28, 2013 at 12:44 AM
I've renounced violence, but some people just need an ass kickin'.
Petunia March 15, 2013 at 02:22 PM
takes a con to know a con. just sayin'... maybe Kathleen should go by her real name.
Petunia March 15, 2013 at 02:23 PM
Takes a con to know a con! She smelled one of her own!
Petunia March 15, 2013 at 02:25 PM
not once they do a background check on her real name.
anita May 02, 2013 at 01:40 PM
petunia..wher did u get your info??? better stay in your garden , when u see things that r impossible to be there...Big job to be so trustting...


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