HOUMA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FILING FRAUDULENT CLAIMS FOR OIL SPILL COMPENSATION
NICHOLAS BILLIOT, age 25, a resident of Houma, LA, plead guilty in federal court today before U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey to a one count indictment of mail fraud relating to fraudulent applications he made to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for financial assistance during the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to the indictment and the factual basis, the GCCF was established to provide disaster assistance funds to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010. The GCCF required business owners to file truthful claims for losses that occurred from the operation of their businesses at the time of the oil spill and to verify loss of income. In August and October 2010, the defendant filed false disaster assistance claims with the GCCF stating that his business, Hope’s Home Improvement, operating in Terrebonne Parish had incurred business losses in the amount of $5,000 per month as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Investigation by the United States Secret Service proved that the defendant’s company never operated or conducted any business and all of his business receipts submitted to the GCCF were false and fraudulent. The defendant admitted he received $26, 000 in GCCF funds as a result of his fraud.
The defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a $250,000 fine, and 5 years of supervised release following imprisonment, a $100 special assessment and full restitution to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
Sentencing in this matter is set for September 6, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Marvin Opotowsky, Disaster Fraud Coordinator.
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