|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: DAVILYN WALSTON|
|TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2009||PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER|
|WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe||PHONE: (409) 839-2538 CELL: (409) 553-9881|
HOUSTON MAN SENTENCED FOR HURRICANE FRAUD IN VIDOR, TEXAS
BEAUMONT, TX – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced that a 57-year-old Houston man has been sentenced for hurricane-related fraud in the Eastern District of Texas.
MICHAEL WAYNE NORDSTROM pleaded guilty on Mar. 13, 2009, to making a false claim against the government and was sentenced today to 5 years probation by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield. Nordstrom was also ordered to pay $12,963 in restitution to FEMA.
According to information presented in court, on Sept. 28, 2005, Nordstrom submitted an application for disaster assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting monetary assistance for his primary residence at 4180 Lakeview Cutoff Street in Vidor, Texas. Nordstrom claimed the residence sustained major damage from Hurricane Rita, rendering it uninhabitable, and that he also sustained damage to his personal property. As a result of this application, Nordstrom received a $2,000 payment on Oct. 3, 2005, a $10,963 payment on Nov. 3, 2005, and a FEMA trailer was placed on the Vidor property. Further investigation revealed that the property was actually rental property that Nordstrom owned and that the renters evacuated before Hurricane Rita and did not return. The investigation also revealed that Nordstrom actually maintained a primary residence in Houston, Texas, for which he claimed a homestead exemption. Various other public records, including his driver license records and other filings, indicate the same Houston address to be Nordstrom's primary residence. Nordstrom was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 19, 2008.
In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice 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 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 was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Rawls.
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