A Louisiana resident pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana on a charge of fraud related to hurricane disaster relief programs, U.S. Attorney David R. Dugas of the Middle District of Louisiana announced.
Juanita Wade, 34, of Baton Rouge, La., pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Ralph E. Tyson to a bill of information charging her with making a false and fraudulent claim for disaster assistance benefits. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General; and the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
As a result of her guilty plea, Wade faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
The number of individuals who have been charged in the Middle District of Louisiana with violations related to hurricane disaster relief funds stands at 84.
In September 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force – chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division – includes the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys and others.
Anyone suspecting criminal activity involving disaster assistance programs can make an anonymous report by calling the toll-free Hurricane Relief Fraud Hotline, 1-866-720-5721, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until further notice. Information can also be e-mailed to the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force at HKFTF@leo.gov or sent by surface mail, with as many details as possible, to Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
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