The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 31, 2011 released the following:
“BIRMINGHAM— A federal grand jury today indicted three women for fraud connected to disaster benefits intended for victims of the April 27 tornadoes in Alabama, including one who falsely claimed she lost her home, her father, and her infant daughter to the storm, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance; Department of Homeland Security—Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge James E. Ward; and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley.
In separate cases, indictments filed in U.S. District Court charge LIBRA NIKOSHA GREEN, 31, of Birmingham; SABRITA LATRICE GOODWIN, 24, of Bessemer; and EVEGELIN WILSON COLEMAN, 44, of Tuscaloosa, with making false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to obtain or attempt to obtain disaster benefits.
“Following the April 27 tornadoes that hit North Alabama, we chose to prosecute even small cases of fraud. Our goal was, and is, to deter as much fraud as possible and to ensure the people who commit crimes that deprive tornado survivors of recovery funds are punished,” Vance said.
“The cases indicted today begin those prosecutions. Hopefully, would-be fraudsters have been deterred by our early efforts to discourage the crimes, but these cases serve as further warning to criminals that we will not tolerate disaster-related fraud and will prosecute those who exploit Alabama’s tragedy for their own illegal gain,” Vance said.
DHS-OIG places a high priority on investigating federal crimes related to disaster fraud that undermine our disaster programs,” Ward said. “Today’s indictment should send a clear message that we intend to stop these types of fraudulent practices to ensure the integrity of our federal disaster programs and operations.”
The public can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the National Disaster Fraud Hotline, toll free, at 1-866-720-5721, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the indictments today, Green is charged with attempting to obtain disaster benefits by falsely claiming to a FEMA representative that she lived in a house on Cherry Avenue in Birmingham that was damaged by the tornado and that her father and infant daughter were killed in the storm.
Goodwin is charged with presenting a FEMA inspector a Bessemer Fire Department report that had been altered to falsely claim a May fire which damaged her Bessemer residence resulted from electrical wiring problems caused by the power outage from the April tornadoes.
Coleman is charged with obtaining disaster benefits as a result of a false representation, and with making a false statement to FEMA. Coleman told a FEMA representative, and falsely claimed on an application for disaster funds, that her primary residence was on 28th Avenue East in Tuscaloosa, an area devastated by the tornadoes.
DHS-OIG and the FBI investigated the cases, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”
To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.
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