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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 12, 2015

St. Tammany Parish Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill

U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that DARRELL MORRIS, age 55, of Slidell, was sentenced today for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (“GCCF”) in the aftermath of the BP oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown sentenced MORRIS to three years’ probation, and ordered restitution in the amount of $40,000.

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 in the Gulf of Mexico.  The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income.  MORRIS, assisted by his co-conspirator, posed as a claimant and completed an electronic claim form with false representations that MORRIS was employed in the commercial fishing industry at the time of the oil spill, when in fact, he was not.  The fraudulent claim form and documentation were all wired from a location in the Eastern District of Louisiana to the GCCF’s office in Dublin, Ohio.  Based on these false representations, MORRIS and his co-conspirator received approximately $75,000 for lost wages to which they were not entitled.

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 U.S. Attorney’s Office praised the work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service in investigating this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia K. Evans and Theodore R. Carter, III were in charge of the prosecution.

Updated March 12, 2015