Portland Residents Charged in Hurricane Katrina Disaster Scheme

January 27, 2006

Karin Immergut, the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, reported that six Portland residents have been charged in connection with the fraudulent receipt of Hurricane Katrina disaster relief funds. The indictments were returned by a federal grand jury in Portland on Jan. 25, 2006.

Chantel Curry, 38; Dominique S. Andrew, 19; Virger M. Garland, 46; Jennifer M. Jones, 36; Trina M. Wilson, 37; and Steven D. Brown, 50; are all charged with one count of Receipt of Stolen Government Property, 18 U.S.C. § 641, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges stem from a federal investigation by the Postal Inspection Service, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General into allegations that Portland residents made false statements in order to qualify for Hurricane Katrina Expedited Assistance disaster relief payments in the amount of $2,000 and Rental Assistance payments in the amount of $2,358 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In order to qualify for the funds, a person must have been displaced from his or her primary residence and be in need of shelter as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Federal investigators have determined that checks were issued by FEMA payable to Portland residents named in these indictments based on false representations that the defendants were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The indictments in these cases each allege that the defendant received a FEMA disaster assistance check knowing it was stolen.

Each defendant is charged with one count of Receipt of Stolen Government Property. The indictment charging Jennifer Jones alleges that she received the proceeds via a wire transfer of funds rather than by check.

Additional indictments and arrests are expected.

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