Miamian Receives Probation for Making Fraudulent $1,452 FEMA Claim

August 10, 2005

Aaron Brown, a Miami man sentenced to probation in Dade County, Miami, Fla., has become the second member of his family convicted of fraudulently obtaining federal disaster money for Hurricane Frances last fall.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Aaron Brown used his mother’s address in Liberty City to file a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He collected $1,452 in rental assistance meant to help disaster victims whose homes are uninhabitable find another place to live.

Brown, 44, later told investigators that he did not live at the home or suffer any hurricane damage.

Brown’s daughter, Christina, also collected $1,452 in rental assistance from FEMA using the same address. She was sentenced to a year’s probation in June.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Osborne recommended Aaron Brown spend two months in prison because he twice has tested positive for cocaine since pleading guilty in May to four counts of fraud and filing a false claim.

U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz told Brown she was giving him “the keys” by placing him instead on probation for four years. During that time, he must pay the money back to FEMA. Brown also received four months house arrest and must enroll in a drug treatment program.

Brown’s attorney, Paul McKenna, told the judge that Brown was not like 15 other Miami-Dade residents charged with making fraudulent FEMA claims, “where people went out and bought things for themselves.”

“He did make a false claim,” McKenna said. “But he did it for his mother and he did use the money to make repairs on her home.”

Before the sentencing, Brown told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel at least four people collected FEMA money using his mother’s address. The home sustained damage from Frances, the Labor Day weekend storm.

Brown told the newspaper he actually was living at the house and used the money as FEMA intended: to move. He said he pleaded to the charges to end the court case.

The judge told Brown she would reduce his probation if he remains drug-free for three years.

If he tests positive for drugs, the judge said she would send Brown to prison for six months.

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