Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Arrest in Baton Rouge, La. on Federal FEMA Fraud Charges

BATON ROUGE, La., Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- United States Attorney David R. Dugas announced today that a Louisiana resident who applied for FEMA relief funds was arrested in Baton Rouge and charged with making false and fraudulent claims.

Reginald Johnson, age 25, a resident of Baton Rouge, La., was charged in a 14-count indictment with making false and fraudulent claims, making false and fraudulent statements to FEMA, and illegal use of social security numbers in connection with applications for FEMA disaster assistance.

The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General. This individual brings the total number of defendants who have been charged in the Middle District of Louisiana with violations related to FEMA relief funds to 21.

In September 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force -- chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division -- includes members from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspector's Office, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, among others.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine per count.

For further information, contact David R. Dugas, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, or Lyman Thornton, First Assistant U.S. Attorney, at 225-389-0443.


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