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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 7, 2017

Contractor Charged with False Statements and Aggravated Identity Theft

Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that MICHAEL SPEARS, age 53, of New Orleans, was indicted today by a federal grand jury for one count of making false statements and one count of aggravated identity theft.

 

According to the Indictment, SPEARS was a contractor for homeowners eligible to receive grants funded by FEMA through the Home Mitigation Grant Program also known as the HMGP. These grants would allow homeowners to elevate their houses to prevent catastrophic damage from future natural disasters. On or about May 5, 2012, SPEARS, was placed on a restricted status with the HMGP that prohibited him from getting any advanced payments on new elevation contracts because he was significantly out of compliance with a number of his pending elevation projects.

 

On or about July 20, 2012, in an effort to be removed from his restricted status with HMGP, SPEARS falsely represented to the program that one of the funding recipients, T.B., had requested that his elevation be delayed when, in truth and in fact, T.B. had not requested a delay. On or about August 5, 2012, SPEARS, then used T.B.’s name and signature in his false representation to the program that T.B. wanted the elevation delayed.

 

If convicted of making a false statement, SPEARS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than 5 years, a fine of $250,000, three years supervised release after imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment. convicted of aggravated identity theft, Spears faces a mandatory two year term of imprisonment to run consecutive to any sentence he receives for the false statement, a $250,000 fine, one year of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment.

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that Indictment is merely an allegation and that the guilty of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Department of Homeland Security-OIG, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily K. Greenfield is in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Consumer Protection
Identity Theft
Updated April 7, 2017