TANIGIPAHOA PARISH WOMAN SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR THEFT
WANITA S. WILLIAMS, age 33, a resident of Tanigipahoa Parish, was sentenced today in federal court by U. S. District Judge Lance M. Africk to fifteen (15) months in prison for mail fraud related to fraudulent applications made to the American Red Cross during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
In addition, Judge Africk ordered that WILLIAMS pay $10,355.00 in restitution to the American Red Cross as well as serve three (3) years of supervised release following the term of imprisonment, during which time the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should she violate any terms of her supervised release.
According to court documents , the American Red Cross made disaster assistance money of up to $1,565 available to those affected by the hurricanes of 2005 on a one-time only basis. The defendant admitted that on eight (8) occasions between September 14, 2005 and October 26, 2005, she applied for an received disaster assistance funds from the Red Cross, each time representing that she had not received assistance in the past. Based on the fraudulent applications, WILLIAMS obtained $10,355.00 from the American Red Cross that she was not entitled to receive.
The case was investigated by agents with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julia K. Evans.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org