- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - An unregistered home-improvement contractor caught up in a sting that state officials set up after Superstorm Sandy has been sentenced to probation.

Victor McGookin of Seaside Park pleaded guilty last November, admitting that he failed to register with the state’s Consumer Affairs Division. Monmouth County prosecutors say 53-year-old McGookin tried to conduct contractor business last spring in Highlands and Belmar.

Several contractors were charged in the sting, which involved investigators posing as the owners of a Sandy-ravaged home in the Highlands or the homeowners’ relatives. The unregistered contractors provided the investigators with damages assessments and cost estimates for rebuilding.

Authorities say undercover investigators identified home improvement contractors via online listings and, after checking each for annual registration with the state, scheduled individual appointments with suspected unregistered contractors.

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