News and Press Releases

KC woman pleads guilty to stealing hurricane katrina benefits

January31, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving $28,220 in federal housing assistance to which she was not entitled, including funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Zaimah K. Muhammad, 31, of Kansas City, formerly of New Orleans, La., waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty to a two-count federal information that charges her with theft of government money.

Muhammad admitted that, on multiple occasions between December 2005 and July 2007, she submitted false certifications along with forged receipts in order to acquire duplicate rental assistance payments from two federally funded programs. One of the federally funded programs was administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was designed to provide emergency housing assistance to Hurricane Katrina victims. The second federally funded program was administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Housing Authority of Kansas City (HAKC) and was designed to provide housing benefits to those with low incomes.

Muhammad illegally obtained $17,977 from FEMA that she was not entitled to receive, and she also obtained $10,243 from HUD and HAKC that she was not entitled to receive.

Under federal statutes, Muhammad is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Porter. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General.

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