The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office announced that, on July 31, officers arrested 49-year-old Jose Puma and 50-year-old Maria Puma without incident, following an investigation into a fire that took place in a three-story residential building they own in Guttenberg that led a victim to sustain severe burns.
Jose Puma was arrested and faces one charge of insurance fraud, and one charge of violating law intended to protect public health and safety. Maria Puma was arrested with one charge of violating law intended to protect public health and safety.
They will make their first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court at 1 p.m. on August 5.
On May 20 at approximately 6:15 p.m., a fire at 67 70th St. in Guttenberg inflicted severe burns upon a 26-year-old female victim from Guttenberg, who remains in critical but stable condition at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.
The investigation by the Hudson County Regional Arson Task Force into the origin and cause of the fire has revealed that the fire started in one of the three illegal apartments located on the ground/basement floor of the house. The cause of the fire remains undetermined.
A subsequent investigation by members of the Public Integrity/Insurance Fraud Unit revealed that Jose Puma allegedly made material misrepresentations on the insurance policy application for the property. In that application, Jose Puma indicated that only two families were living in the building and that the building was not being used for business purposes.
The investigation concluded that numerous construction and fire codes were allegedly knowingly violated, resulting in the victim sustaining serious bodily injury. These violations included a lack of smoke detectors in each apartment and inadequate means to escape in an emergency.
The above charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.