NOPD OFFICER INDICTED FOR WIRE FRAUD INVOLVING “KICK-BACK” SCHEME FOR FEMA FUNDS
MICHAEL ROUSSEL, age 46, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana and a captain with the New Orleans Police Department, and JOSEPH BRANCH, age 37, a resident of Brownsboro, Texas and owner of Gladius, Inc., were charged in a one-count indictment with being involved in a wire fraud scheme to receive “kick-backs” under a contract to provide armed security guards following a hurricane, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, on approximately June 14, 2010, a Confidential Witness (CW) who works in the Security Department for a large multi-national corporation (Company) located in New Orleans, Louisiana, notified the FBI that ROUSSEL contacted him and told him that he (ROUSSEL) had a friend who lived in Texas and owned a company that provided security services wherein GLADIUS would provide armed guards to the Company after a hurricane. It is alleged that ROUSSEL told the CW that if the CW gave ROUSSEL’s friend a contract, ROUSSEL’s friend would “kick-back” money to both ROUSSEL and the CW.
It is further alleged that the CW subsequently met with ROUSSEL and BRANCH in New Orleans and during this meeting, they agreed to an hourly rate of $89.50 per hour per guard with an inflated portion of approximately $15.00 per hour, per guard. The CW, BRANCH and ROUSSELL then agreed to split the $15.00 inflated fraudulent charge equally.
On June 22, 2010, the CW, ROUSSEL, and BRANCH were scheduled to meet at the Company’s offices in New Orleans, Louisiana, and sign a contract that included the inflated prices.
If convicted, BRANCH and ROUSSEL each face a maximum term of imprisonment of thirty (30) years maximum, a $1 million, and a five (5) year term of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
U. S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation is being conducted by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michael W. Magner and Brian J. Capitelli.
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