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National Insurance Crime Bureau

Jefferson County Man Guilty of FEMA Fraud for Hurricane Harvey Payments

US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas, Oct. 25, 2021

BEAUMONT, Texas – A Beaumont man has pleaded guilty to hurricane-related fraud in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.

Ricky Gonzales, 61, pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with a major disaster or emergency benefits today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christine L. Stetson.

According to information presented in court, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas in August 2017, causing extensive damage to the region. Gonzales applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damage to a residence in Mauriceville, which he claimed was his primary residence. Gonzales received approximately $35,000 as a result of his claim. This residence, however, was actually rented and occupied by Gonzales’ daughter, who also applied for FEMA assistance. Her application was denied because of the duplicate applications for the same address. In order to receive FEMA funds, the applicant must use the property as their primary residence. Rental income properties are not eligible for FEMA funds.

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