NEW ORLEANS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MAIL FRAUD AND THEFT OF FEDERAL FUNDS
GEORGE MAGEE, age 53, a resident of New Orleans, LA, pled guilty in federal court today before U. S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt to two counts of mail fraud and one count of theft of federal funds relating to fraudulent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claims and applications for food stamp benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the factual basis, FEMA provided disaster assistance money to those affected by Hurricane Katrina, including rental housing assistance. In addition to making his own claim for FEMA assistance, MAGEE submitted two applications to FEMA using the identities of other individuals. In connection with those applications, he submitted false addresses and false documentation to make it appear that those individuals lived at those false addresses at the time of the storm. As a result of MAGEE’s misrepresentations, two checks were sent by U.S. mail to a mailbox in MAGEE’s apartment complex where he could easily access them. MAGEE forged the signatures of the two individuals and deposited the checks into his own account. In total, MAGEE stole $7,736.98 from FEMA and the United States Treasury.
Also, according to the factual basis, the Louisiana Department of Social Services, Office of Family Support (DSS), determines eligibility for and administers the payment of food stamps and public assistance to qualified individuals. The United States Department of Agriculture provides funding to DSS for food stamps and public assistance programs. MAGEE fraudulently applied for food stamps issued by DSS. In total, MAGEE stole $10,017 from the federally funded food stamp program.
MAGEE faces a possible maximum sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment on each mail fraud count, and ten (10) years imprisonment for theft of federal funds. Additionally, he faces a fine on each count of up to $250,000, three (3) years of supervised release, and restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16, 2010.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and the Louisiana Department of Social Services, Office of Family Support. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharan E. Lieberman.
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