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Press Release

Siskiyou County Man Pleads Guilty to Major Fraud Against the United States for Taking FEMA Grant Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California
Grant Administrator Misused over $500,000 Intended for Recruiting and Training New Firefighters

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Samuel Thomas Lanier, 40, of Dunsmuir, pleaded guilty today to seven counts of major fraud against the United States, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, from approximately June 2013 to March 2018, Lanier engaged in a scheme to defraud the United States by submitting, or causing to be submitted, false reimbursement requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in connection with federal grants awarded to Siskiyou and Shasta County Fire Chiefs Associations to assist them in recruiting and training new firefighters.

In June 2013 and June 2014, respectively, the Siskiyou and Shasta County Fire Chiefs Associations were awarded grants as part of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Each grant was over $1 million. The purpose of these grants was to assure that communities have adequate protection from fire-related hazards, and to help the recipients attain and maintain 24-hour staffing.

Lanier, as an owner or executive of two companies located in Dunsmuir, was hired by the Fire Chiefs Associations to administer these grants. In this capacity, Lanier knowingly submitted to FEMA false and fraudulent reimbursement requests, seeking and obtaining reimbursement for goods and services that were not, in fact, actually obtained on behalf of the fire associations. In so doing, Lanier caused a gross loss to the United States of over $500,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Major Frauds & Corruption Unit of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Schuller Hitchcock is prosecuting the case.

Lanier is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on September 16. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated June 3, 2019

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 2:19-cr-084-KJM