DEFENDANT PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY INVOLVING “KICK-BACK” SCHEME FOR FEMA FUNDS
JOSEPH BRANCH, age 37, a resident of Texas, pled guilty today in federal court before U. S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier to one count of conspiracy to defraud Entergy Services, Inc. and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the factual basis, BRANCH, owner of Gladius, Inc., and Michael Roussel, a New Orleans Police Captain, met with a cooperating witness and signed a contract wherein Gladius, Inc. would provide armed guards to Entergy after a hurricane. The hourly rate charged by Gladius to the company, would be inflated by approximately $15.00 per hour per guard to cover payments to the defendants. BRANCH further admitted that he agreed to split the inflated fraudulent charge equally with the cooperating witness and Roussel. Roussel is scheduled for trial March 28, 2011.
BRANCH faces a possible maximum sentence of five (5) years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three (3) years of supervised release. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 16, 2011.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael W. Magner and Harry W. McSherry, Jr.
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