NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A man who stole mortgage payments through a phony refinancing scheme that forced a couple to default on their mortgage was sentenced to eight years in prison, and ordered to reimburse the couple $180,867, authorities said today.

Robert Perniola, 60, of Pompano Beach, Fla., formerly of Manalapan, received funds from the homeowners who thought Perniola was assisting them with the refinancing, but he was instead funneling the money into his own personal accounts, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement.

Superior Court Judge Benjamin Bucca on Thursday imposed the sentence in accordance with a plea agreement that Perniola reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D'Elia, Cary said.

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Bucca also ordered Perniola to repay the couple the $90,000 he received from them, and to reimburse them for more than $90,000 in interest costs, fees and a balloon payment that resulted from the fraud scheme, the prosecutor said.

Perniola previously pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree theft by deception.

Authorities said that Detective Kevin Schroeck of the prosecutor’s office investigated the case and determined that between January 2012 and February 2014 Perniola received funds from a Sayreville couple on a monthly basis through falsely claiming he was assisting them in refinancing their mortgage.