Ex-Cop’s Wife Charged in Louisiana Spill Claim

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN | February 2, 2012

The wife of a former New Orleans, La., police officer who pleaded guilty to helping cover up deadly shootings on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina was charged Tuesday with submitting a fraudulent claim for money from BP’s oil spill compensation fund.

Rokeisha Barrios, 32, of New Orleans, was charged in a bill of information with one count of wire fraud. Her attorney, Robert Glass, said she has agreed to plead guilty to the charge at a date to be determined. Glass declined to comment further.

Federal prosecutors say she received $22,600 from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility after falsely claiming her husband, Robert Barrios, lost income as a fisherman and hotel employee following the Gulf oil spill in 2010.

Robert Barrios is one of five former officers who pleaded guilty in 2010 to participating in a plot to make it appear police were justified in shooting six unarmed people, killing two, on the Danziger Bridge less than a week after the 2005 storm that spawned catastrophic flooding.

Robert Barrios isn’t charged with wrongdoing in the case against his wife. However, during a trial last year for five other current or former officers charged in the shootings, Barrios said federal authorities were investigating allegations he fraudulently received money from BP’s $20 billion claims fund.

Jurors who convicted the five officers of civil rights violations in August also heard testimony that Barrios’ wife had complained to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten that her husband felt pressured to plead guilty. Robert Barrios said that was a misunderstanding.

Robert Barrios testified that fishing became a source of income after he resigned from the police department. Tuesday’s court filing, however, says Rokeisha Barrios submitted fraudulent seafood sales receipts to support her false claim that her husband lost business after BP’s blown-out well spilled more than 200 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The court filing also says Robert Barrios didn’t start working for a hotel until three weeks after the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Rokeisha Barrios is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 16. The charge against her carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Last month, Robert Barrios started serving a five-year prison sentence at a minimum-security prison camp in Beaumont, Texas.

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