Skip to main content
Press Release

Suwannee County Woman Pleads Guilty To Submitting False Claim For FEMA Benefits Related To Hurricane Irma

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – Deannajo White (39, Suwannee County) has pleaded guilty to disaster assistance fraud. She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, plus payment of restitution to the United States.

According to

, on September 27, 2017, White made an application for disaster assistance benefits to FEMA over the internet. In the application, White claimed that her primary residence in Branford, Florida had suffered storm damage due to Hurricane Irma, when a tree fell through the roof, forcing her to leave the residence and begin living at a rental property in Branford. White subsequently contacted FEMA and stated that she had moved to a different rental property with a higher rent. White submitted multiple documents to FEMA in support of her application, including rent receipts, leases, and letters.

On August 13, 2019, law enforcement agents interviewed White about her disaster assistance application. During the interview, she repeatedly lied to the agents. When confronted with evidence showing that she had lied on the application, White admitted to making false statements. She also admitted to submitting multiple false documents to FEMA, including fraudulent rent receipts and leases. 

This case is part of the United States Attorney’s Disaster Fraud Task Force, which was announced in September 2017. It was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office. It is being 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 disaster@leo.gov. You may also visit www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl.

Updated February 3, 2020

Attachment
Factual Basis   [PDF, ]
Topics
Disaster Fraud