Houston Man Offers Guilty Plea in Katrina Disaster Fund Scheme

February 16, 2006

United States Attorney Chuck Rosenberg reported that Clifford Neville, 53, of Houston, Texas, has been convicted of filing a false claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Hurricane Katrina Disaster funds.

At a hearing held this week before United States District Judge Nancy Atlas, Neville pleaded guilty to the federal felony charge of filing a false claim in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 287. Judge Atlas scheduled Neville’s sentencing for May 5, 2006. At sentencing, Neville faces a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The case against Neville is the result of an investigation initiated by a tip to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG).

According to the tip, Neville had reportedly filed a false claim for FEMA assistance. DHS-OIG agents found that two claims had been filed in Neville’s name for FEMA Hurricane Katrina disaster assistance. The first claim, filed on Sept. 9, 2005, listed Neville’s primary residence as Louis XIV street in New Orleans. Based on that claim, Neville received $2,000 in expedited disaster assistance.

Further investigation by DHS-OIG agents reportedly proved not only that Neville had been living in Houston when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, but that Neville had never resided in New Orleans.

On Oct. 1, 2005, the second claim was filed in Neville’s name for FEMA Hurricane Katrina disaster assistance. The second claim again listed the primary residence of Louis XIV Street in New Orleans. Because the information in the second claim matched the information from the first claim, FEMA computers flagged the second claim and no payment was ever made as a result of that claim.

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