Ten Individuals Charged with Disaster Assistance Fraud | USAO-WDLA

LAFAYETTE, La. – Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury has returned ten separate indictments charging ten individuals with fraudulently applying for 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 22, 2016 and November 14, 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.

The indictments further allege that each defendant submitted a signed letter to FEMA stating the subject vehicle belonged to the defendant, was their only means of transportation, and was no longer operable. In each case, the repair estimates submitted by each defendant, which ranged from $6,291 to 8,736, were all from repair shops that did not exist. A list of the defendants and the charges they face are as follows:

Defendant Name

Charges

Brittany Nicole Hawkins, 29,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $5,999 to defendant
 

Shannan Latreice Johnson, 45,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $5,999 to defendant

Tasha Jesse Louis, 39,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $6,000 to defendant

Jarnell Wayne Payne, a/k/a Jernell W. Payne, 43,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $5,999 to defendant

Kevin Callery, 54,

Baldwin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $5,999 to defendant

Leo Green, Jr., 55,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $6,000 to defendant

Robert Joseph Johnson, Jr., 33,

Patterson, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $6,000 to defendant

Derrick Shawn Kirt, 44,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $5,999 to defendant

Jarmaine Scott Thomas, Jr., 25,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $6,000 to defendant

Johnathan D. Wilson, 38,

Franklin, Louisiana

  • Fraud in Connection with Major Disaster or Emergency Benefits – one count
  • Theft of Government Money or Property – one count
  • Fraudulent repair estimate resulted in disbursement of $6,000 to defendant

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you have any information to report concerning potential FEMA fraud, please call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721.

This investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Ayo is prosecuting the case.

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