Baton Rouge Woman Indicted for Theft of Disaster Assistance Funds
Acting United States Attorney Corey Amundson, who also serves as the Acting Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, announced today that JENNIFER J. WEBER, age 35, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury charging her with theft of $9,331 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds in relation to the 2016 Baton Rouge flooding.
Following the 2016 flooding that affected 12 parishes in south Louisiana, FEMA funds were available to people who had emergency needs for food, shelter, and clothing because of the flood. In order to qualify for assistance based on home ownership, an individual must have, among other things, resided in the home at the time of the storm.
According to the indictment, WEBER is alleged to have submitted a false application for FEMA assistance for a Denham Springs residence where she did not reside at the time of the August 2016 flooding. In her application, she is also alleged to have lied in asserting that, because of the damage to the Denham Springs residence, she had emergency needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Acting U.S. Attorney Amundson stated, “Federal disaster assistance funds are designated for the aid of individuals affected by a disaster, and with the intent to return these individuals to the lives they lived before being victimized by disasters. The theft of these funds by fraudsters victimizes not only the federal government, but actual disaster victims, too, whose legitimate claims may be delayed because someone else has already submitted a fraudulent claim using the victim’s residence. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, together with the National Center for Disaster Fraud and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, will continue diligent efforts to seek out and hold accountable individuals who seek to steal assistance funds and impair the Federal Government’s ability to assist true victims of a disaster.”
Special Agent in Charge David Green, Houston Field Office, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General stated, “Working in concert with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DHS-OIG will continue to hold these individuals accountable. Our agency is committed to a zero-tolerance policy when pursuing criminal charges against individuals who steal from the U.S. taxpayer by filing fraudulent FEMA disaster assistance claims.”
Members of the public who suspect fraud involving disaster relief efforts, 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. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also fax information to the Center at (225) 334-4707, or email it to email@example.com. Learn more about the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud at http://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
This matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Pugliese.