SLIDELL WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING AMERICAN RED CROSS
SYLVIA BARNES, age 27, a resident of Slidell, Louisiana, pled guilty in federal court today before U. S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier to one count of wire fraud relating to a series of fraudulent applications for financial assistance that she submitted to the American Red Cross, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, the 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. BARNES admitted that she applied for and received disaster assistance funds from the Red Cross up to 4 times between September 2, 2005, and October 5, 2005. BARNES repeatedly applied for these funds throughout the early fall of 2005, each time indicating that she had not yet received any money at all from the Red Cross. In all, BARNES fraudulently obtained $4,695 from the American Red Cross.
BARNES faces a possible maximum sentence of twenty (20) years in prison, a subsequent period of supervised release up to three (3) years, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution. Sentencing has been scheduled for October 7, 2010.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
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