DALLAS MAN SENTENCED IN HURRICANE FRAUD CASE
DALLAS — Bernard Thomas, who admitted making false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) after Hurricane Katrina, has been sentenced, announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas. Thomas, age 45, currently of Dallas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor to serve a two-year term of probation and pay $23,402 in restitution to FEMA.
In March, Thomas pled guilty to one count of making, false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims against the government. He admitted that on September 10, 2005, he made a material false claim to FEMA for compensation for damages to his primary residence at 7849 Angela Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Thomas admitted he submitted this claim well knowing that residence was not his primary residence. Based on his claim, however, Thomas fraudulently received $23,402 in Katrina Disaster Assistance Funds to which he was not entitled.
In September 2005, the Department of Justice created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force 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 Matthew Friedrich, Acting Assistant Attorney General for 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 of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wiley prosecuted the case.