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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Two Orleans Residents Guilty to Charges Related to Filing Fraudulent Claims for Oil Spill Compensation

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that LATASHA N. ANDERS, age 34, and ARNOLD WILLIAMS, age 33, residents of New Orleans, 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, 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.  ANDERS worked as a claims adjuster for the GCCF.  Beginning in or about October 2010, ANDERS submitted or caused to be submitted, via the internet, claim forms on behalf of her co-conspirators containing false representations and fraudulent documentation that they were employed in the commercial fishing industry at the time of the oil spill, when in fact they were not.  ANDERS shared in the claim proceeds in exchange for her assistance.  Based upon the fraudulent documentation, ANDERS obtained $250,000 in claim proceeds to which she and her co-conspirators were not entitled.

Additionally, ANDERS conspired with WILLIAMS to file a false claim for loss earnings on his behalf, when in fact he did not work in the commercial fishing industry.  Based upon the fraudulent claim, WILLIAMS received $50,000 to which he was not entitled. Both ANDERS and WILLIAMS admitted to purchasing a home for $110,000 with the illegal proceeds they received from the fraudulent claims.

ANDERS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release following imprisonment, and restitution in the amount of $250,000.  WILLIAMS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a $50,000 fine, three years of supervised release following imprisonment, and restitution in the amount of $50,000.  U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman set sentencing for September 2, 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.

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.

Updated April 29, 2015