United States Attorney John L. Ratcliffe
Eastern District of Texas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: DAVILYN WALSTON
TUESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2008 PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe PHONE: (409) 839-2538
CELL: (409) 553-9881
HOUSTON MAN GUILTY OF HURRICANE FRAUD IN PORT ARTHUR
BEAUMONT TX – United States Attorney John L. Ratcliffe announced that a 32-year-old Houston man has pleaded guilty to charges of hurricane related fraud in the Eastern District of Texas.
BOB ALLEN HAYES, Jr., was indicted in September 2007 and charged with making a materially false statement to FEMA in connection with applications he filed for federal disaster relief. He pleaded guilty to those charges Monday before United States Magistrate Judge Earl Hines.
According to information presented in court, Hayes claimed his primary residence in Port Arthur, Texas sustained damage during Hurricane Rita in September 2005. Hayes also claimed his personal property sustained damage during the hurricane. In fact, Hayes did not live at the residence in Port Arthur during the storm and did not suffer losses which entitled him to receive FEMA assistance. An investigation revealed that the residence in question was owned by the Port Author Housing Authority and was vacant at the time of the storm. Hayes fraudulently received approximately $20,000.00 in disaster related assistance for his claims.
Hayes faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00. at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
In September 2005, the Attorney General's Office created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force – chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division – includes members of the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, among others.
This case is being investigated by the United States Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Hobbs.
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