Appeals Court Upholds BP Oil Spill Compensation Fund Fraud Convictions
BIRMINGHAM – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday upheld the convictions and sentences for three south Alabama family members who schemed to steal $2 million from the fund established by British Petroleum to compensate victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.
The appellate court affirmed sentences of 12 years and a month in prison for MARCELLA TRUSS, 57, 13 years and three months for her husband, MARTEE DAVIS, 45, and seven years and eight months for Truss’ brother, HOWARD LENARD CARROWAY, 45. A federal jury in Birmingham convicted the trio in October 2014 of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud between August 2010 and December 2011 by filing false claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Separately, the jury convicted each of the defendants on other counts underlying the scheme.
During the course of the scheme, Truss and Davis lived in Grand Bay, Ala., and Birmingham, and Carroway lived in Mobile.
“The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the righteous prosecution of these defendants who chose to exploit a tragedy for their personal gain and at the expense of all of the true victims of this disaster,” Town said. “The FBI led a thorough investigation that enabled the U.S. Attorney’s Office to successfully bring these individuals to justice.”
The overall conspiracy involved the filing of more than 50 fraudulent claims in the names of 37 people alleging damages in the form of lost earnings from the oil spill. All of the claims were purported to be from individuals employed by, or otherwise associated with, a company named Built By Request, which Truss formed in 2006. All 37 people had supposedly worked for, or held an ownership interest in, Built By Request, and claimed they had lost earnings from the company due to the oil spill. All of the claims were indisputably false.
To get the false claims filed, Truss, Davis and Carroway all solicited the participation (and the needed personal information) of others. When the money came in, Truss, Davis or Carroway always took substantial portions of the payments.