Des Allemands Woman Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that MELISSA ANN DURAN, age 42, a resident of Des Allemands, pled guilty today before Judge Carl J. Barbier, to a one-count mail fraud indictment.
According to court documents, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion that occurred on April 20, 2010. The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income. On August 23, 2010, DURAN applied for disaster assistance funds, representing that she worked as seafood process for a commercial fisherman during for two years before the oil spill. However, DURAN had never worked as a seafood processor for the stated commercial fisherman, and she submitted or caused to be submitted false documentation to establish her false earnings. Based on her fraudulent application, DURAN received approximately $33,800 to which she was not entitled.
DURAN faces a maximum penalty of twenty years, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment. U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier set sentencing for August 18, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Spiro G. Latsis is in charge of the prosecution.