U.S. Attorney's Office Announces $255,000 Settlement with Livestock Producers for False Claims Allegations
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a settlement has been reached with Carl Trahan, Melissa Trahan, the Estate of Ernie Little, Thad Little, Stacy Little, T.L. Cattle Co., and Little Cattle Co., for $255,000 in damages associated with claims submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to qualify for and receive 2005 Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) payments following Hurricane Rita.
In 2005, the LIP provided payments to livestock producers for livestock deaths resulting from natural disasters, including Hurricane Rita. In order to qualify for disaster payments, producers were required to submit documentation to the FSA office to prove that the death of the eligible livestock occurred in an eligible parish as a direct result of an eligible hurricane. Beginning in June 2006, the settling parties made statements and claims to the FSA to obtain LIP payments which the United States contends were false or fraudulent.
“The federal government set up a program to help livestock producers who sustained significant losses during natural disasters,” Finley stated. “It is unfortunate that there are people who misuse these programs, but they should understand that such conduct will not be taken lightly in this District.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Inspector General, investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen J. King and Affirmative Civil Enforcement Investigator Christopher Knighton handled the civil case. The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
If you witness or have knowledge of any violations of laws and regulations related to USDA programs, contact the OIG Hotline by telephone at (800) 424-9121 or TDD (202) 690-1202, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.