Federal Prosecutors Charge Ninth Person in Scheme to Defraud BP Oil Spill Claims Fund
BIRMINGHAM – Federal prosecutors this week charged a Birmingham woman as part of a conspiracy to fraudulently take money from funds established to pay claims from individuals and businesses harmed by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.
In an information filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, the U.S. Attorney's Office charged METILDA STEWARD GORDEN, 47, with conspiring in 2010 to participate in a scheme to defraud the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has now charged nine people with conspiring to defraud the oil spill claims funds, and seven have pled guilty.
British Petroleum, which owned the Macondo oil well where the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in June 2010 for the purpose of administering and settling claims resulting from the oil spill disaster. A subsidiary of BP established the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust Fund in August 2010 to pay certain types of claims and expenses from the oil spill, including claims settled through the GCCF.
Gorden is charged with independently agreeing to provide personal information, such as bank account information, to individuals who recruited her so that they could use her information to file fraudulent claims for lost wages with the GCCF. The recruiters are not named in the charging document. After the GCCF paid Gorden on the fraudulent claims, she returned part of the money to the individuals who recruited her to participate in the scheme, according to the information. Between November 2010 and August 2011, the GCCF paid about $65,786 into Gorden's bank account.
The FBI is investigating these cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Cornelius is prosecuting the cases.
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The Office of U.S. Attorney
Joyce White Vance
Natural Disaster Fraud Hotline
Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the Hotline, toll free, at (866) 720-5721 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the News Release Justice Department Officials Raise Awareness of Disaster Fraud Hotline