New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that KEVIN RICHARD, age 26, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty yesterday to engaging in mail fraud for his role in submitting a fraudulent application for disaster assistance money in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
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 offered multiple types of claims related to the Deepwater Horizon incident for which it would issue payment. One of the types of claims offered by the GCCF was a “Quick Payment Final Claim,” which provided that a claimant who had received a prior EAP or Interim Payment from GCCF could receive, without further documentation of losses caused by the BP oil spill, a one-time final payment of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses. Claimants seeking a Quick Payment were required to submit with their claim form a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue.” To be eligible to receive funds via a Quick Payment Final Claim, an applicant had to previously submit a successful (i.e., paid) initial claim containing proof of costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of the oil discharges due to the Deepwater Horizon incident.
On November 3, 2010, RICHARD applied for disaster assistance funds, representing that he worked as a cook for New Orleans Paddlewheels, Inc. at the time of the oil spill. In fact, RICHARD was not employed by New Orleans Paddlewheels, Inc. at all. As a result of this, and other, fraudulent representations, the GCCF sent a check in the amount of $21,000.00 to RICHARD, which he cashed at a Whitney National Bank branch in New Orleans. Subsequently, on January 3, 2011, RICHARD completed, signed, and mailed to the GCCF a Quick Payment Final Claim Form seeking an additional payment of $5,000, which the GCCF issued on January 14, 2011. RICHARD cashed this check on January 18, 2011.
RICHARD faces a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than twenty years, followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon set sentencing for October 27, 2016. RICHARD was remanded to the custody of U.S. Marshals following a recent bond revocation.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.
United States Attorney Polite praised the work of the United States Secret Service in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.