PONCHATOULA WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING AMERICAN RED CROSS
WANDA C. BAHAM, age 33, a resident of Ponchatoula, LA, pled guilty in federal court today before U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey to one count of wire fraud relating to fraudulent applications for financial assistance that she submitted to the American Red Cross between September 2005 and December 2005, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, BAHAM applied for and received disaster assistance funds from the American Red Cross on approximately eleven (11) occasions. 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. BAHAM 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, BAHAM was provided $12,220 from the American Red Cross, of which approximately $10,655 was fraudulently obtained.
Upon sentencing, scheduled for February 22, 2010, BAHAM faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a $250,000 fine, restitution to the American Red Cross, and three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U. S. Attorney Peter M. Thomson.
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