Nevada Men to Face Katrina-Related Fraud Charges in La.

January 9, 2006

Two Nevada men accused of defrauding victims of Hurricane Katrina and their insurance companies were returned to Louisiana to face criminal charges.

State police accused William Pinckard, 49, and James R. Rousseau, 40, of Las Vegas, of insurance fraud, conspiracy, burglary, criminal damage and theft. They had been arrested in Las Vegas on Dec. 21 and held without bond pending extradition.

Authorities said Pinckard owned a water removal service in the Las Vegas area, while Rousseau quit that company shortly before Katrina hit on Aug. 29 to work for a private adjusting firm contracted by State Farm Insurance Co.

The case involved at least seven complaints from State Farm policyholders in the St. Tammany Parish area, state police said. According to a state police news release, Rousseau allegedly pressured homeowners to use Pinckard’s service to clean up mold damage.

State police said that after homeowners paid a $5,000 deposit, the work either was poorly done or left incomplete, after which bills would be submitted for amounts far above the usual cost for mold removal.

In one case, a family that had evacuated to Shreveport gave a credit card number for a $1,000 tree removal job, investigators said. Instead, their house was burglarized, wallboard was removed, belongings were stolen and more money was charged to the family’s credit card, state police said.

Pinckard and Rousseau were being held in St. Tammany Parish pending a bond hearing.

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