Jacksonville Man Sentenced For Disaster Assistance Fraud Involving Tropical Storm Debby, Hurricane Matthew, And Hurricane Irma
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida
Jacksonville, Florida – Senior U.S. District Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger has sentenced Lepoleon Spikes (47, Jacksonville) to 21 months in federal prison for wire fraud involving fraudulently obtained FEMA benefits. Spikes was immediately remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. The court also ordered Spikes to pay $57,689.19 in restitution to the United States.
According to court documents, in February 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) received an allegation that Spikes had provided false information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to receive disaster assistance. Upon receipt of the allegation, DHS-OIG determined that Spikes had submitted applications to receive disaster assistance from FEMA involving Tropical Storm Debby, Hurricane Matthew, and Hurricane Irma. A review by DHS-OIG determined that, in each of the applications submitted to FEMA for disaster assistance, Spikes falsely claimed that his primary residence in Jacksonville was damaged due to a storm. Spikes claimed that, due to the storm damage, he had to relocate and was in need of disaster assistance. Based on his applications for disaster assistance, Spikes fraudulently obtained $57,689.19 from FEMA.
This case is part of the United States Attorney’s Disaster Fraud Task Force, which was announced in September 2017. This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein.
Members of the public who suspect fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, or believe they have been the victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, should contact the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at (866) 720-5721. A live operator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week staffs the telephone line. You can also fax information to the Center at (225) 334-4707, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl.
Updated October 16, 2019