Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced Thursday that a federal grand jury has returned indictments charging 11 individuals with fraudulently applying for and receiving disaster benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In August 2016, severe flooding impacted south Louisiana and a presidential disaster declaration was issued on Aug. 14, 2016. FEMA was authorized to provide transportation assistance for repair or replacement of a primary vehicle damaged by the disaster.
The indictments allege that between Sept. 26, 2016 and Nov. 11, 2016 each of the defendants, acting in concert with others, made false statements and representations to FEMA in an application for transportation benefits. Each application for disaster assistance was submitted on behalf of each defendant claiming their vehicle sustained flood damage in Iberia and Lafayette parishes when each of them was a resident of St. Mary Parish, which was not included as a designated parish for assistance.
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The indictments further allege that each defendant submitted a signed letter to FEMA stating the subject vehicle belonged to the defendant, was their only means of transportation, and was no longer operable. In each case, the repair estimates submitted by each defendant, which ranged from $6,215 to $9,042, were all from repair shops that did not exist.
A list of the defendants as follows:
- Dwayne Clark, 49, Franklin
- Roshawn Lewis, 31, New Iberia
- Michelle Annette Kirt, 52, Franklin,
- Darius Juandre Stansbury, 30, Franklin
- Keshawn Alonzo Gray, 24, Berwick
- Kieshondra Monique Lovely, 41, Lake Charles
- Juanita Dugas, 58, Franklin
- Nicole Gibson, 51, Garden City
- Gail Nelson, 65, Franklin
- Michell Antoinette Fernandez, 40, Franklin
- Eric Joseph Daniels, 37, Franklin
Nine individuals were previously indicted in related cases on April 22. Those individuals were as follows:
- Brittany Nicole Hawkins, 29, Franklin
- Shannan Latreice Johnson, 45, Franklin
- Tasha Jesse Louis, 39, Franklin
- Jarnell Wayne Payne, a/k/a Jernell W. Payne, 43, Franklin
- Kevin Callery, 54, Baldwin
- Leo Green, Jr., 55, Franklin
- Robert Joseph Johnson, Jr., 33, Patterson
- Derrick Shawn Kirt, 44, Franklin
- Johnathan D. Wilson, 38, Franklin
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you have any information to report concerning potential FEMA fraud, please call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721.
This investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Ayo is prosecuting the cases.