SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two California residents separately charged with defrauding FEMA by filing false claims for benefits offered to certain victims of the November 2018 Camp Fire plead guilty to fraud in connection with a major disaster or emergency benefits, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
Daniel Connelly, 55, of Forest Ranch, entered a guilty plea today. According to court documents, on Jan. 16, 2019, Connelly filed a false application for FEMA benefits. In his application, Connelly falsely claimed a Paradise residence, which had been damaged by the Camp Fire, as his primary residence. Connelly knew his claim was false at the time he applied for FEMA benefits because he had vacated the residence months prior to the fire after a bank initiated eviction proceedings. At the time of the Camp Fire, the residence was vacant and listed for sale. As a result of Connelly’s false statement in his application for FEMA benefits, he received $2,663 to assist with rent and the replacement of personal property.
Patrick Prigmore, 54, of Redding, pleaded guilty in a separate criminal case on July 23. According to court documents, on Dec. 3, 2018, Prigmore filed an application for FEMA benefits falsely claiming the same Paradise residence as his primary residence that Connelly had claimed when in fact Prigmore had never resided at the address. In support of his application, Prigmore submitted photographs of counterfeit utility bills, which falsely indicated that he had received utilities at the residence. As a result of the false statement made in his application for FEMA benefits, Prigmore received $12,837 for rental assistance and the replacement of personal property, as well as approximately nine months of free housing in a trailer provided by FEMA.
These cases are the product of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shelley D. Weger is prosecuting both cases.
Connelly is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley on Oct. 15. Prigmore is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on Oct. 27. Both Connelly and Prigmore each face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.