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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Orleans Woman, Alicia Wells, Sentenced For Defrauding Gulf Coast Claims Facility

ALICIA WELLS, age 29, of New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced today in federal court by U. S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier to 4 years probation for mail fraud relating to a fraudulent application she made to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for financial assistance in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, announced U. S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.   In addition to the term of probation, Judge Barbier ordered the defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $13,200 to BP America.

According to court documents, the GCCF made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion.  The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income.  On September 25, 2010, WELLS applied for disaster assistance funds, representing that she was working at Center Plate before the oil spill.  However, WELLS had never worked for Center Plate and that she submitted false documentation to establish that she was employed at Center Plate and to establish her false loss earnings.  Based on WELLS’ fraudulent application, the GCCF issued three checks totaling $13,200 to which WELLS was not entitled. 

This case was brought as part of this District’s partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), a nationwide initiative to protect available funds and assistance for those victims of both natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the recent Gulf oil spill.  If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, you can contact the NCDF by either calling the hotline at (866) 720-5721, faxing (225) 334-4707, emailing at disaster@leo.gov or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Loan “Mimi” Nguyen.