PONCHATOULA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING AMERICAN RED CROSS
JUAN OWENS, age 44, a resident of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, pled guilty yesterday before U. S. District Judge Ann Vial Lemmon to a one-count indictment for mail fraud relating to fraudulent applications he made to the American Red Cross for financial assistance during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the factual basis, the American 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. OWENS admitted on ten (10) occasions between September 12, 2005 and October 24, 2005, he applied for and received disaster assistance funds from the Red Cross, each time representing that he had not received assistance in the past. Based on the fraudulent applications, OWENS obtained $13,480.00 from the American Red Cross that he was not entitled to.
OWENS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a $250,000 fine, and three (3) years supervised release following imprisonment. Sentencing has been scheduled for March 2, 2011.
The case was investigated by the U. S. Postal Inspection Services, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Spiro Latsis.
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