Sorrento Town Councilman Randy Anny and his wife pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges that accuse them of benefiting financially by falsely claiming the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico damaged their 26-foot fishing boat and trailer.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Riedlinger released the three-term councilman and his wife, Barbara Falgoust Anny, on their own recognizance following the couple’s brief initial court appearance and arraignment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Dippel told Riedlinger that the government was not asking for the couple to be detained.
Baton Rouge attorneys Michael Davis and John McLindon, who represent Randy and Barbara Anny, respectively, said afterward that they are eager to learn more about the government’s case.
“Mr. Anny is looking forward to his time in court,” Davis added outside the Baton Rouge federal courthouse.
An indictment returned last month accuses the Annys of submitting a bogus $7,800 claim in November 2010 for damage to their 2004 ProSport boat, “Who’s Ya Daddy,” and trailer while in Grand Isle during the Deepwater Horizon spill in April 2010.
They received the $7,800 payment in June 2011.
The Annys each are charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud, and face up to 20 years in prison on each count.
Riedlinger said they also face fines of up to $250,000 on each count, as well as restitution, and could be ordered to forfeit any fraudulently obtained property.
Randy Anny, according to the indictment, claimed two of the boat’s motors were overhauled and the vessel’s hull was repainted as part of the $7,800 in work.
After Anny submitted a fraudulent repair invoice to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, he and his wife used a joint email account to keep track of the bogus claim, the indictment and federal prosecutors allege. The Annys received the payment in a joint bank account, prosecutors have said.
The FBI seized the boat from the couple’s Sorrento home in February but later returned it to them.
Randy Anny has said he will not resign while the charges are pending. If convicted, he would have to step down from his elected post.