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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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

Amended Press Release

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that CLARA AITCH, age 39, and WENDY ERVIN, age of 42, both of New Orleans, each pled guilty on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to the 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.

On March 12, 2015, AITCH and ERVIN were indicted along with 18 other defendants in a 26-count indictment charging approximately $30,052,295 in Medicare fraud and the BP fraud.

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.  In November, 2010, AITCH and ERVIN conspired with LISA CRINEL to apply for disaster assistance funds, and represent that they were employees of LACE, a reception hall owned and operated by LISA CRINEL, when, in truth, AITCH and ERVIN were full time employees of ABIDE HOME CARE SERVICES, INC.

Based on their fraudulent applications, the co-defendants received a total of $35,800 in GCCF funds, monies neither were entitled to receive.

AITCH and ERVIN both face a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years, a $250,000 fine, and three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment.  U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan set sentencing for July 29, 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in investigating this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrice Harris Sullivan, Sharan Lieberman and Andre Lagarde are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated April 28, 2015