FORMER SEATTLE WOMAN SENTENCED FOR HURRICANE KATRINA FRAUD AND FOR DEFRAUDING OTHER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Woman Used Stolen Identity to Obtain Nursing License and Illegally Collect other Benefits
ROSEMARIE CALVIN, 45, now of Henderson, Nevada, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Mail Fraud and Social Security Fraud. CALVIN was first identified for prosecution as part of the investigation into Hurricane Katrina Fraud. Investigators then uncovered additional fraud schemes that lead to CALVIN illegally collecting Social Security benefits as well as benefits for injured workers. CALVIN was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour.
According to the plea agreement, CALVIN filed a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on September 13, 2005 claiming her primary residence in New Orleans, Louisiana had been damaged by Hurricane Katrina. CALVIN also claimed medical and dental expenses as a result of the hurricane, including a claim for a motorized scooter she said had been stolen while she was sheltered in the Superdome. In fact, CALVIN was residing in Washington State at the time of the hurricane, and has never even been to Louisiana. CALVIN further preyed on the emotions of aid workers, falsely claiming that her husband had been killed on a tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. CALVIN received $23,206.95 in rental assistance, housing assistance and medical assistance to which she was not entitled.
Investigators soon discovered CALVIN was involved in another fraud scheme. According to the plea agreement, in 2001, CALVIN used another individual’s identity to apply for a license to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in the State of Washington. CALVIN claimed she was previously known by another name. A woman with that name is in fact a registered nurse in Florida. Using that woman’s Social Security Number CALVIN got a copy of the woman’s college transcript and diploma, and so was able to obtain the license and began working in a Seattle medical clinic. CALVIN was terminated from the clinic in 2003, when her employer learned she had falsified her credentials. Her nursing license was revoked in 2004. In 2005, CALVIN claimed to Social Security that she had not been employed in any way since 1993. As a result of that claim she was paid $59,463 in Social Security benefits to which she was not entitled. After CALVIN was dismissed from the clinic, she also filed a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries claiming she suffered a knee injury while on the job. She was paid $44,502 in time loss and medical treatments for that injury. Because CALVIN was engaged in the felony of identity theft at the time of the injury she was not entitled to any benefits.
In all CALVIN has agreed to pay restitution of $127,172.
Prosecutors asked for a significant sentence for CALVIN noting the detrimental effect of this type of fraud on society as a whole. CALVIN’s “behavior is aggravated by her blatant efforts to prey on the sympathy of others using a combination of her genuine medical impairments and bald-faced lies about her circumstances. This type of behavior has a detrimental impact on society as a whole as it creates an environment in which people are less willing to help those in need. In the aftermath of a major natural disaster, people like Ms. Calvin make it even more difficult to provide assistance to those truly in need,” Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa wrote in his sentencing memorandum.
The Katrina Fraud Task Force in the Western District of Washington is being led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) In the Western District of Washington the agencies working on the task force include the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG), the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG), the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG), the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the FBI and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
CALVIN was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.
In September 2005, the 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 – chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division – includes the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and others.
Anyone suspecting criminal activity involving disaster assistance programs can make an anonymous report by calling the toll-free Hurricane Relief Fraud Hotline, 1-866-720-5721, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until further notice. Information can also be emailed to the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force or sent by surface mail, with as many details as possible, to Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.