News and Press Releases

Director of Non-Profit Sentenced in BP Claims Fund Fraud Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Ronald J. Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Richard L. Walker, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General - Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigation, and Jessie Panuccio, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, announced that Jean Mari Lindor, 32, of Homestead, Florida, was sentenced in federal court in Miami today, for his participation in filing false claims in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and pollution incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Lindor was convicted on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft, all in connection with fraudulent claims filed by the defendant seeking lost income against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the filing of fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, and false claims for unemployment compensation against the State of Florida, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341, 1343, 1029(a)(2) and (b)(1), and 2.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, who presided over the trial in the matter, sentenced Lindor to 286 months’ in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. A restitution hearing has been scheduled for December 4, 2014.

According to the Indictment and evidence presented at trial, in June 2010, BP established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for the purpose of administering, mediating, and settling certain claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of oil discharges due to the April 20, 2010 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that had been drilling an exploration well. In August 2010, the GCCF began receiving and processing such claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages, and other losses they had incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, paying the claims from a $20 billion Trust Fund established for that purpose.

Lindor also used unauthorized access devices during the scheme, consisting of the unique GCCF Claim numbers assigned to his fictitious claims, and without which he would have been unable to communicate with the GCCF, or cause payments to be issued to them. Moreover, Lindor also sought unemployment compensation for more than a year from the State of Florida, falsely certifying that he was not earning income when, in fact, he was actively directing the scheme at Noula.

Furthermore, the evidence at trial showed that Lindor possessed and used without lawful authority the social security numbers of two identity theft victims to file fraudulent tax claims against the IRS, and directed the refunds into either his personal bank account or to bank debit cards.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Secret Service, Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate. Mr. Ferrer would also like to thank the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF). This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, through the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Disaster Fraud Hotline at 877-NCDF-GCF (623-3423), the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707, or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at miamipd@usdoj.gov.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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