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June 3, 2010

NEW ORLEANS WOMAN CHARGED IN FRAUD RELATED TO HURRICANE KATRINA

Indictment brings to 105 the total number of persons charged in the SDTX with defrauding the government through hurricane disaster relief programs

(HOUSTON) - A New Orleans woman, indicted in the Southern District of Texas for making a false claim for disaster relief, theft of government property and aggravated identity theft following Hurricane Katrina, has been arrested, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Tekoya McCollum, 29, was arrested this morning in Miami, Fla. 

McCollum is charged in a three-count indictment with making a false claim for benefits to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), stealing from FEMA and using another person’s identity in connection with these crimes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The indictment was returned in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas on Wednesday, May 5, 2010.  

The indictment alleges that shortly after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005, Thomas, while in Houston, filed a claim for disaster relief, misrepresenting that her name was Loreal Gardere. The indictment also alleges that Thomas requested and received more than $1,000 in FEMA benefits to which she was not entitled and used another person’s name in connection with this crime.

McCollum is expected to make her initial appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge in Miami today where the issue of bond is expected to be addressed. The case will be prosecuted in Houston.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by agents with the Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General.

This case was brought as part of this District’s partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), a nationwide initiative to protect available funds and assistance for those victims of both natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the recent Gulf Oil Spill.  If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, you can contact the NCDF by either calling the hotline at (866) 720-5721, fadxing the hotline at (225) 334-4707, or emailing at disaster@leo.gov or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA  70821-4909.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney F. Andino Reynal.

 

 

 

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