FREEHOLD, NJ — A Neptune Township man has been found guilty of writing nearly $3,000 in bad checks for Sears merchandise he purchased shortly after Superstorm Sandy for his alleged damaged home, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

John C. Vanness, 57, of Riverside Drive was convicted on October 27 of multiple counts of theft by deception and writing bad checks in a scam he perpetrated in the course of two days, November 11 and 12, 2012 — nearly two weeks after the major storm hit the Jersey Shore on October 29.

Claiming he was a Superstorm Sandy victim, he conned cashiers at the Sears in Ocean Township into accepting three checks from his long-defunct business bank account to make $2,883 in purchases for his home, the prosecutor’s office said in a release.

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Vanness then quickly returned the stolen merchandise in exchange for cash at other local Sears locations, the prosecutor’s office said.

The conviction came after a four-day criminal trial — and the second one on the same charges for Vanness. Although the case was originally successfully tried in June 2014, the conviction was overturned by the New Jersey Appellate Division, and then the case was returned for a retrial.

Vanness is scheduled for sentencing before Superior Court Judge Dennis R. O’Brien on December 14  in Freehold. Vanness faces a sentence of three to five years in a New Jersey state prison on each theft by deception offense and up to 18 months on each bad check offense.

The case was prosecuted to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Detzky. Vanness is represented by Stefan Erwin of Freehold.

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