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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Laplace Men Plead Guilty to Fraudulent Claims for Oil Spill Compensation

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana announced that HARDELL MACK, age 43, and MICHEGEL BUTLER, age 40, residents of LaPlace, each pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to fraudulent applications they 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, beginning in or about  September 2010, MACK and BUTLER recruited claimants, requested their personal information, and submitted or caused to be submitted fraudulent GCCF claim forms generated online and transmitted to the GCCF falsely stating that the claimants worked as non-owner captain/deckhands on a shrimp boat in Venice, Louisiana, and suffered economic loss.  Based on the fraudulent documentation, the GCCF issued approximately $65,300 to undeserving individuals.  MACK and BUTLER shared in the claims proceeds.

MACK and BUTLER each face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment.  MACK owes restitution in the amount of $36,500, and BUTLER owes restitution in the amount of $28,800.  U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance set sentencing for December 16, 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 disaster@leo.gov, or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA  70821-4909.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana 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.

Updated August 12, 2015