Maryland Homeowner Falsely Claimed Katrina Disaster Relief

January 8, 2009

A woman who owned a New Orleans home but was living in Maryland when Hurricane Katrina struck has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $60,000 in disaster relief benefits.

Federal prosecutors say 42-year-old Schewanda Baptiste pleaded guilty Tuesday. Authorities say she was renting out her New Orleans home to another family when the storm hit.

Baptiste had insurance that covered the property damage. But she falsely claimed the home was her primary residence in an application for disaster relief. At the time, prosecutors say Baptiste was living in Waldorf.

Prosecutors say disaster relief payments were delayed to the renter of the New Orleans home because of Baptiste’s fraudulent applications.

Baptiste faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 13.

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