Central Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Wildfires Fraud

March 7, 2013

A Central Texas man faces up to five years in prison for wrongly accepting more than $30,000 in federal help after 2011 wildfires burned a home he owned.

Prosecutors in Austin say 53-year-old Manuel Hernandez of Paige falsely said the destroyed structure was his primary residence.

Hernandez on Monday pleaded guilty to violating the False Claims Act. He also faces repaying the federal money and a fine of up to $250,000.

Investigators say Hernandez submitted a claim to the Federal Emergency Management Agency after a house he owned in Bastrop County burned in September 2011. Authorities say Hernandez at the time was living in Austin and had not resided in the Bastrop County house for months.

No sentencing date was immediately set.

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