HOUSTON WOMAN SENTENCED FOR KATRINA-RELATED WIRE AND MAIL FRAUD
KAREN JONES, age 32, a resident of Houston, Texas, was sentenced today to 10 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release and ordered to repay $33,579 in restitution by United States District Court Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt. JONES plead guilty on June 8, 2011, to committing wire fraud and mail fraud relating to her receipt of Section 8 benefits from the Housing Authority of New Orleans for a residence in which she did not live in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, announced United States Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, after Hurricane Katrina, JONES moved to Houston, Texas and began receiving Disaster Housing Assistance Program (“DHAP”) benefits from FEMA for an apartment in Houston. At about the same time, she applied for Section 8 assistance for a residence in New Orleans. She did not inform HANO about the DHAP payments she was receiving. As a condition of receiving the Section 8 benefits, JONES promised to live in the residence for which she received Section 8 benefits. Instead, she continued to live in Houston and did not live in the New Orleans residence. As a result of JONES’S actions, between December 2006 and December 2008, HANO made monthly payments to the landlord of her New Orleans residence by mail and by electronic check totaling $33,525.00. These payments by mail and by electronic means form the basis of the mail fraud and wire fraud charges, respectively.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Homeland Security - OIG. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
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