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15 INDIVIDUALS CHARGED WITH FRAUD FOR FILING FALSE CLAIMS RELATING TO THE DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL RIG EXPLOSION TOTALING OVER $300,000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2013

United States Attorney Dana J. Boente announced the filing of fourteen Bills of Information and one Indictment bringing felony charges against 15 individuals for filing fraudulent applications for relief relating to an April 20, 2010 explosion and fire which occurred on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico where British Petroleum (BP) had been drilling a well.  After the disaster, BP established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) to administer, mediate, and settle claims of individuals and businesses for losses incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident.  The GCCF began receiving and processing such claims in August 2010.  The GCCF required any individual filing a claim to submit valid documentation as proof of loss or reduction in earnings due to the oil spill.  Detailed below are the charges against the 15 individuals who were charged with submitting fraudulent claims.  The loss to BP from the fraudulent claims totals $309,990 from these individuals.

TYARIANA SCOTT, age 36, of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 16, 2010, the GCCF received SCOTT’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $17,500, wherein SCOTT falsely stated she lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of SCOTT’S claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, SCOTT had worked as a hotel supervisor earning $48,251 annually, when in fact she had not.  SCOTT received approximately $17,500.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

TRACEY DANIELS, age 49 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 28, 2010, the GCCF received DANIELS’ online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $33,450, wherein DANIELS falsely stated she lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of DANIELS’ claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, DANIELS had worked as a restaurant manager earning $54,651.99 annually, when in fact she had not.  DANIELS received approximately $32,100.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

SHANEL DANYELL BURTON, age 33 of River Ridge, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 13, 2010, the GCCF received BURTON’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $19,586, wherein BURTON falsely stated she lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of BURTON’S claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, BURTON had worked as a restaurant supervisor earning $47,820 annually when, in fact, she was never so employed.  BURTON received approximately $19,600.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

TROY TOLEDANO, age 51 of Grand Prairie, Texas, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 16, 2010, the GCCF received TOLEDANO’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $23,900, wherein TOLEDANO falsely stated he lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of TOLEDANO’S claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, TOLEDANO had worked as a hotel supervisor earning approximately $47,000 annually when, in fact, he was never so employed.  TOLEDANO received approximately $23,900.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.  

RANELL BOYD, age 51 of Harvey, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on November 8, 2010, the GCCF received BOYD’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $26,100, wherein BOYD falsely stated she lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of BOYD’S claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, BOYD had worked as a hotel manager earning $49,618 annually, when in fact she was not so employed.  BOYD received approximately $26,100.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

ODNEY BRIMMER, age 32 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on November 17, 2010, the GCCF received BRIMMER’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $23,150, wherein BRIMMER falsely stated he lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of BRIMMER’S claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, BRIMMER had worked as a hotel supervisor earning approximately $43,000 annually when, in fact, he was never so employed.  BRIMMER received approximately $23,200.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

TIRON KELLEY, age 49 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 18, 2010, the GCCF received KELLEY’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $18,500, wherein KELLEY falsely stated he lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of KELLEY’S claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, KELLEY had worked as a grocery manager earning approximately $45,000 annually, when in fact he had not.  KELLEY received approximately $15,100.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

ARIN JONES, age 31 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 16, 2010, the GCCF received JONES’ online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $26,800, wherein JONES falsely stated she lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of JONES’ claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, JONES had worked as a hotel supervisor earning approximately $50,000 annually when, in fact, she was never so employed.  JONES received approximately $26,800.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

ROBIN HAYES, age 41 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 19, 2010, the GCCF received HAYES’ online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment in the amount of $21,300, wherein HAYES falsely stated she lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Documentation in support of HAYES’ claim included copies of fraudulent W-2 wage statements and pay stubs indicating that prior to the oil spill, HAYES had worked as a hotel manager earning approximately $46,000 annually, when in fact she was not so employed. HAYES received approximately $21,300.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

ROY R. PARKER, age 55 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on September 30, 2010, the GCCF received PARKER’S online claim form seeking an emergency six-month payment, wherein PARKER falsely stated he lost earnings as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  PARKER had worked as the head houseman at a hotel earning approximately $35,000 annually.  Documentation in support of PARKER’S claim included a letter purporting to be from his employer falsely stating that PARKER’S wages and hours were reduced as a result of the oil spill.  In fact, PARKER’S wages and hours were never reduced, as a result of the oil spill.  PARKER received approximately $13,890.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Irene Gonzalez.

BENJAMIN BENNETT, age 23 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 12, 2010 BENNETT submitted a fraudulent 2009 Schedule C, Form 1040 federal tax return, showing that he operated a commercial fishing business in 2009 which was profitable.  Additionally, he submitted other documentation indicating the defendant operated a commercial fishing business in Venice, Louisiana before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  However, defendant really worked as a barber in New Orleans, Louisiana before the oil spill.  BENNETT received approximately $43,400.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans.

PIERRE WILBOURN, age 40 of Kenner, Louisiana, Mail Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that on October 4, 2010 WILBOURN submitted a fraudulent 2009 Schedule C, Form 1040 federal tax return, showing that he operated a commercial fishing business in 2009 which was profitable.  Additionally, he submitted or caused to be submitted other documentation indicating the defendant operated a commercial fishing business in Venice, Louisiana before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  However, the defendant was really employed doing concrete work before and after the oil spill.  WILBOURN received approximately $20,000.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans. 

KEISHANDRA HOUSTON, age 36 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Wire Fraud  
The Bill of Information alleges that in September 30, 2010 HOUSTON submitted a fraudulent claim to the GCCF for lost earnings in the amount of $8,640.  HOUSTON falsely represented that she worked as a cook at a seafood restaurant and suffered financially due to lost employment as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. HOUSTON created two false earnings statements which incorrectly indicated that the she was employed by a seafood restaurant.  HOUSTON received approximately $5,900.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Chandra Menon.  

RACHELL THOMAS, age 36 of Slidell, Louisiana, Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud 
The Bill of Information alleges that in or about September 2010 and continuing until in or about October 2010, THOMAS, agreed with other individuals to make false claims to the GCCF for lost earnings.  At the direction of THOMAS, the other individuals provided THOMAS with claim forms in which they falsely claimed to work for seafood restaurants and to have suffered financially through lost employment as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident.  THOMAS completed a claim form for herself with the same false representation.  THOMAS created false earnings statements from a fictitious restaurant and wrote letters from a fictitious supervisor of the restaurant.  THOMAS transmitted approximately twenty-three claims.  Each claim included a claim form, a falsified earnings statement, and a falsified letter.  THOMAS and six other individuals each submitted a follow-up claim for additional funds.  On November, 24, 2010, the GCCF paid THOMAS approximately $8,000 as a result of her false claim.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Chandra Menon.  

ALICIA WELLS, age 29 of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mail Fraud  
According to the indictment returned by a Grand Jury sitting in New Orleans, on September 25, 2010 the defendant submitted an application to the GCCF seeking compensation for loss of earnings resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill by falsely and fraudulently stating that she was a line cook a local restaurant before the oil spill, when in fact, she had never worked for the business.  WELLS received approximately $13,200 as a result of her fraudulent filings.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Loan “Mimi” Nguyen.

U.S. Attorney Boente reiterated that the Indictment and Bills of Information are merely charges and that the guilt of each defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The cases are being investigated by the United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.  The cases were referred to the agencies by the National Center for Disaster Fraud located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Assistant U. S. Attorney Carter K. D. Guice, Jr. is the Disaster Fraud Coordinator for the Eastern District of Louisiana. 

Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Disaster Fraud Hotline at 877-NCDF-GCF (623-3423), the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at disaster@leo.gov.  Individuals can also report criminal activity to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

(Download Indictment - Alicia Wells )

(Download Bill of Information - Rachell Thomas )

(Download Bill of Information - Pierre Wilbourn )

(Download Bill of Information - Benjamin Bennett )

(Download Bill of Information - Roy Parker )

(Download Bill of Information - Robin Hayes )

(Download Bill of Information - Arin Jones )

(Download Bill of Information - Tiron Kelley )

(Download Bill of Information - Odney Brimmer )

(Download Bill of Information - Ranell Boyd )

(Download Bill of Information - Troy Toledano )

(Download Bill of Information - Shanel Burton )

(Download Bill of Information - Tracey Daniels )

(Download Bill of Information - Tyariana Scott )

(Download Bill of Information - Keishandra Houston )

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