BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge man pleaded guilty Tuesday, October 3 to theft of FEMA funds in relation to the historic August 2016 flooding.
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Joe W. Jones, 65, pleaded guilty to theft of $13,807 in FEMA funds after filing a fraudulent claim after the flooding.
According to documents submitted to the court, back in August of 2016, Jones filed a fraudulent claim with FEMA seeking disaster assistance funds for a house in Baton Rouge that he claimed was his primary residence during the flooding. However, it was determined that at the time of the flooding, Jones was living elsewhere and was renting his home to a tenant, whose own FEMA application as a renter was delayed because of Jones' fraudulent claim.
"Unfortunately, Louisiana is not only targeted by storms that cause extensive damage to lives and property, it is also targeted by fraudsters who seek to steal disaster assistance funds that are intended for true victims. The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, together with the National Center for Disaster Fraud and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, will work tirelessly to catch individuals who submit fraudulent claims for disaster assistance and ensure that such assistance funds are available to individuals truly victimized by disasters," said Acting U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson.
"We all suffer when federal assistance programs are undermined by fraud. This defendant's conviction should send a clear message that our department will not tolerate any type of fraudulent activity, and we will relentlessly pursue those responsible for criminal acts related to disaster assistance funds," said Special Agent-in-Charge David Green, Houston Field Office, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.
Anyone who suspects fraud involving disaster relief funds or believes they have been a victim of such fraud should call the National Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Information can also be faxed to 225-334-4707 or emailed to email@example.com.
To learn more about National Center for Disaster Fraud, click here.