PONCHATOULA WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING AMERICAN RED CROSS
RENA MARIE BROWN, age 43, a resident of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, pled guilty in federal court yesterday before U. S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon to one count of wire fraud relating to fraudulent applications following Hurricane Katrina, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the factual basis, BROWN admitted that she applied for and received disaster assistance funds from the American Red Cross five times. 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. BROWN repeatedly applied for these funds throughout the early fall of 2005, indicating that she had not yet received any money at all from the Red Cross. In all, BROWN fraudulently obtained $5,660 from the American Red Cross.
BROWN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a $250,0000 fine, restitution to the American Red Cross, and three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment. Sentencing has been set for October 21, 2010.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U. S. 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