Federal Charges Brought against 11th Person in Scheme to Defraud BP Oil Spill Claims Fund
BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury today indicted 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.
The indictment of FELICIA YOUNGBLOOD, 25, brings to 11 the number of people in North Alabama to face federal charges for conspiring to participate in a scheme to defraud the oil spill claims funds. Youngblood is the second person indicted by a federal grand jury. The U.S. Attorney's Office has charged nine others this year and those nine have pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy.
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.
The four-count indictment of Youngblood charges her with the conspiracy to submit false claims to the GCCF in the summer of 2011 that resulted in her receiving payments of $39,293 and $28,332. The indictment also charges Youngblood with mail fraud, prohibited monetary transactions and wire fraud.
According to the indictment, Youngblood carried out the fraud as follows:
Youngblood provided personal information to co-conspirators that was used to prepare and submit false claims of lost earnings to the GCCF. The false claims caused the GCCF to mail a $39,293 check to Youngblood and to wire a separate payment of $28,332 to Youngbloods' bank account. At the direction of co-conspirators, Youngblood used the $39,293 check on July 25, 2011, to obtain two cashier's checks of $17,146 each and $5,000 cash . She endorsed the cashier's checks and gave them to a co-conspirator. On Aug. 4, 2011, Youngblood, at the direction of a co-conspirator, withdrew $10,000 of the $28,332 that had been electronically deposited into her account and gave the money to the co-conspirator.
The FBI is investigating these cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Cornelius is prosecuting the cases.
The public is reminded than an indictment contains only charges. It will be the government's responsibility to prove the defendant's guilt at trial.
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