LAFAYETTE — Federal officials on Monday announced that a settlement was reached in the Department of Agriculture’s dispute with four people and two companies that claimed they lost cattle when Hurricane Rita tore through Cameron Parish in September 2005.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said Monday that the four people and the two companies agreed to pay the government $255,000 in damages. Finley did not break down how much each person and the two companies would pay.
Finley said the government had reached the agreement with Carl Trahan, Melissa Trahan, Thad Little and Stacy Little, along with companies T.L. Cattle Co. and Little Cattle Co., and the estate of Ernie Little.
“In 2005, the LIP provided payments to livestock producers for livestock deaths resulting from natural disasters, including Hurricane Rita,” Finley said in a prepared statement.
Cattle producers were required to have documentation proving the deaths of the cattle in an eligible parish.
“Beginning in June 2006, the settling parties made statements and claims to the (Farm Service Agency) to obtain LIP payments, which the United States contends were false and misleading,” Finley said.
The allegations against the four individuals and the two companies had not been proven, “and there has been no determination of liability,” Finley said in a news release.
Finley did not say where the cattle farms were located or where the defendants made their claims.
Additional information about the scheme was requested Monday afternoon from Finley’s office but was not immediately provided.
According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, where records of business incorporations are kept, T.L Cattle Co. and Little Cattle Co. were based in Hackberry. Hackberry is located in Cameron Parish, which was hit hard by Rita.
The Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General investigated the case.