Spring Couple Handed Sentences For Hurricane Ike Fraud
HOUSTON – A local husband and wife have been sentenced to federal prison following their two convictions for defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency in relation to disaster assistance following Hurricane Ike, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. LaCarsha, 40, and Andrew Goodman, 41, entered pleas of guilty on April 10 and May 17, 2012, respectively.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas, who accepted the guilty pleas for theft of government property and fraud In connection with major disasters, sentenced LaCarsha Goodman to a term of 27 months in prison. Andrew Goodman received a 24-month sentence on Sept. 7, 2012. Both were also ordered to pay $23,014 in restitution and serve two years of supervised release upon completion of their prison terms.
The evidence showed Goodmans perpetrated an ongoing series of frauds against the government, reporting false addresses and damage to their home in connection with Hurricane Ike. The Goodmans reported multiple home addresses as their primary residence in order to receive these benefits. In each instance, the Goodmans falsely indicated that their primary residences were damaged by Hurricane Ike and that access into their homes was restricted. As a result of their claims, the Goodmans received $23,014 in disaster relief funds from FEMA.
The case was initiated after the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General received an allegation from U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General alleging the Goodmans may have defrauded FEMA by submitting a false claim for disaster assistance following Hurricane Ike, which made landfall on Sept. 13, 2008.
A review of FEMA's National Emergency Management System revealed that between Sept. 18, 2008, and Oct. 21, 2008, Andre and LaCarsha Goodman submitted two separate claims for disaster assistance. LaCarsha used two distinct Social Security numbers and, along with Andre, claimed two different addresses on the 14500 block of Vantage Parkway as their primary residence in Houston. In each of the claims, the Goodmans indicated that their primary residence was damaged by Hurricane Ike and that access to their home was restricted. On the basis of one of the claims, FEMA awarded the Goodmans a total of $23,014 in disaster related assistance payments. The investigation revealed the Goodmans did not live, own or rent one of the residences they claimed with FEMA to be their primary residence.
Previously released on bond, LaCarsha was permitted to voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future, while Andre was ordered into custody following his sentencing hearing.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas is a member of the Department of Justice's Disaster Fraud Task Force, established to deter, detect and prosecute instances of fraud related to hurricanes and other types of disasters. Comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement investigating agencies, the Task Force combats all types of fraud relating to disasters and their aftermath, with an emphasis on charity fraud, emergency-benefit fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud and procurement fraud.
Anyone suspecting criminal activity involving disaster assistance programs can make an anonymous report by calling the toll-free fraud hotline, 1-866-720-5721 or contacting the Disaster Fraud Fax at 1-225-334-4707 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at email@example.com, 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice. Information can also be sent by surface mail, with as many details as possible, to:
National Center for Disaster Fraud
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909