D O J Seal
U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney Richard B. Roper
Northern District of Texas

 

 
 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: KATHY COLVIN
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/TXN

PHONE: (214)659-8600
FAX: (214) 767-2898

 

 

WOMAN ADMITS DEFRAUDING FEMA OF MORE THAN $26,000
IN FRAUDULENT CLAIMS FILED FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA


DALLAS — Lechall Bridges pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis to filing false claims with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas. Bridges, 45, faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. She is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Solis on March 12, 2008.

A federal grand jury in Dallas indicted Lechall Bridges and co-defendant, Kevin S. Howard, in April for filing false claims with FEMA following Hurricane Katrina. Howard remains a fugitive.

In documents filed in Court, Bridges admitted that in September 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, she filed false and fraudulent claims with FEMA for disaster assistance. She falsely claimed that she resided at 10906 South Hardy Street in New Orleans and that her residence and personal property had been damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. She also falsely stated that she had been subject to mandatory evacuation during Hurricane Katrina.

Bridges admits, however, that contrary to her claims for FEMA assistance, she was residing in Texas at the time Hurricane Katrina came ashore on August 29, 2005. She further admits that although she had previously lived at 10906 South Hardy Street in New Orleans, she moved to Texas at least two weeks before Hurricane Katrina came ashore.

Bridges further admitted that she did not suffer any loss due to Hurricane Katrina and that as a result of her false or fraudulent claims, she received a total of $26,200 from FEMA.

In September 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales 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 from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspector’s Office and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, among others.

U.S. Attorney Roper praised the investigative efforts in this case of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy J. Mitchell.



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