Laplace Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulent Claims for Oil Spill Compensation
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that CHARLIE ENGLISH, age 33, a resident of LaPlace, pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to fraudulent applications he made or caused to be made to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for financial assistance during the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
According to court documents, the GCCF made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income. ENGLISH worked as a claims adjuster for the GCCF. Beginning in or about September 2010, ENGLISH, provided fraudulent documentation to his co-conspirators who posed as claimants, and submitted and/or caused to be submitted, via the internet, false claims for loss earnings representing that the claimants were employed in a commercial fishing business before the oil spill when in fact the claimants did not work in the commercial fishing industry. ENGLISH was to share in the claim proceeds in exchange for his assistance with the claims. Based on the fraudulent documentation, the GCCF issued approximately $257,400 to undeserving individuals.
ENGLISH faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following imprisonment. U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan scheduled sentencing for March 11, 2015.
This case was brought as part of this District’s partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), a nationwide initiative to protect available funds and assistance for those victims of both natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the recent Gulf oil spill. If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, you can contact the NCDF by either calling the hotline at (866) 720-5721, faxing (225) 334-4707, emailing at email@example.com or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia K. Evans is in charge of the prosecution.