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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jones and Van Horn Sentenced on FEMA Fraud Charges

OXFORD, Miss. Felicia C. Adams, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, and James E. Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General announced that:

Tamya H. Jones, 36, of Houston, Texas, formerly of Sledge, Mississippi, was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Glen H. Davidson in Aberdeen, Mississippi, and Laura Van Horn, 34, of Lansing, Michigan, formerly of Tunica, Mississippi, was sentenced by United States District Judge Sharion Aycock, following each defendant’s plea of guilty earlier this year to one count of fraud in relation to a claim for disaster benefits.  The charge to which Jones pled guilty involved making a materially false statement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in an application for benefits following a series of tornadoes that struck Mississippi in late April 2011.  The charge to which Van Horn pled guilty involved making a similar false statement to FEMA in an application for benefits following the Mississippi River flood of May 2011.

Judge Davidson ordered Jones to serve 12 months and 1 day in prison, followed by 5 years supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $21,052.25.  Ms. Jones has been ordered to report to prison on November 4.

Judge Aycock ordered Van Horn to serve 37 months in prison, followed by 5 years supervised release.  She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,199.38.  Van Horn is already in custody serving her sentence.

James E. Ward, Special Agent in Charge for the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General stated:

“The Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General is dedicated to investigating fraud related to DHS programs, specifically FEMA Emergency Disaster Relief Funds.   The charges against this defendant serve as an example of our commitment to investigating FEMA fraud allegations and pursuing federal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.  DHS-OIG places a high priority on the investigation of these types of crimes, which negatively impact our federal system and programs that are intended for law abiding citizens.”

Both cases were investigated by the United States Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Mims.

Anyone who has knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, may contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at (866) 720-5721.  Information can also be sent by fax to (225) 334-4707, by e-mail to disaster@leo.gov or by writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.  Calls can be made anonymously and confidentially.

Updated February 3, 2015