United States Attorney’s Office – Western District of Louisiana, July 22, 2021
LAFAYETTE, La. – Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury has returned 11 separate indictments charging 11 individuals with fraudulently applying for and receiving disaster benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is a department of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
In August 2016, severe flooding impacted south Louisiana and a Presidential disaster declaration was issued on August 14, 2016 under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The incident period covered August 11, 2016 through August 31, 2016. FEMA was authorized to provide transportation assistance for repair or replacement of a primary vehicle damaged by the disaster.
The indictments allege that on certain dates between September 26, 2016 and November 11, 2016 each of the defendants, acting in concert with others, made false statements and representations to FEMA in an application for transportation benefits and provided certain documentation required by FEMA to process the claim in connection with the Presidential Disaster Declaration for the Louisiana Severe Storms and Flooding. Each application for Disaster Assistance was submitted on behalf of each defendant claiming their vehicle sustained flood damage in Iberia and Lafayette Parishes in Louisiana, when each of them was a resident of St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, which was not included as a designated parish for assistance.