Louisiana Woman Pleads Guilty for Fake Hurricane Claims

March 18, 2013

A New Iberia, La., woman pleaded guilty to conspiring to defrauding the government out of thousands of dollars in false hurricane damage claims.

Federal prosecutors say Jacqueline Marie Benjamin entered her plea Thursday. She faces five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both with three years of supervised release. The Advertiser reports no sentencing date was set.

In a 2005 application to FEMA following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the defendant’s sister-in-law applied for rental assistance money claiming she was forced to move as a result of storm damage to her home. According to the stipulated factual basis signed by the defendant in open court, Valerie Benjamin listed her new residence in New Iberia as a rental property and listed Jacqueline Benjamin as her landlord when she was not.

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