22 New Orleans-area Residents Charged with Katrina Fraud
22 individuals are facing federal felony charges via grand jury indictments or bills of information as a result of alleged Katrina fraud offenses, announced United States Attorney Jim Letten, joined by David Welker, FBI Special Agent in Charge New Orleans Division, Robert Anderson, Special Agent in Charge, Housing and Urban Development Inspector General for the New Orleans Division, Terence Barrett, United States Postal Inspection Service Supervisor, Michael Brannon, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's Office, New Orleans Division, Scott Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, Small Business Administration Inspector General's Office and Bruce J. Paluch, Resident Agent in Charge, Diplomatic Security Service, New Orleans.

Specifically, 12 individuals have been charged by federal grand jury indictment and 10 individuals charged by bill of information. Many of these cases were referred as a result of complaints by and through the National Center for Disaster Fraud, which has its command center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The charged individuals are as follows:

♢ RUTH LESLIE GOODMAN, a/k/a Ruth Goodman, a/k/a Meagan McKinney, age 49, a resident of New Orleans, was charged in a 6-count superseding indictment for theft of government funds, mail fraud, false statements and possession of a falsely obtained Canadian passport. According to the indictment, between August, 2005 and September, 2007, the defendant created and executed a scheme to defraud the Louisiana Road Home, FEMA, and the Small Business Administration of over $439,000.00 in government funds. The indictment also alleges that the defendant received and possessed an official Canadian passport stating that she was born in Canada when she was actually born in the United States. GOODMAN faces a maximum term of fifty-five (55) years imprisonment, over $1 million in fines, and up to three (3) years of supervised release. The case was investigated by the Small Business Administration - Office of Inspector General, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General, the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and the United States Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Marvin Opotowsky and Scott Laragy.

♢ KAREN JONES, age 32, a resident of Houston, Texas, was charged today in a 25-count indictment with mail fraud and wire fraud related to her receipt of Section 8 benefits. According to the indictment, JONES moved to Houston, Texas following Hurricane Katrina and began receiving Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) benefits from FEMA for an apartment there. It is alleged that at approximtaely the same time, she also applied to the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) for Section 8 assistance for a residence in New Orleans and did not inform HANO about the DHAP payments she was receiving. As a condition, JONES promised to live in the residence for which she received Section 8 benefits. It is alleged that she continued to live in Houston and did not live in the New Orleans residence. As a result of JONES'S actions, between December 2006 and December 2008, HANO made monthly payments totaling $33,525 to the landlord of her New Orleans residence by mail and by electronic check, thus securing the rental of multiple properties as a result of her fraudulent acts. The Indictment alleges that these payments by mail and by electronic means form the basis of the mail fraud and wire fraud charges, respectively. If convicted, JONES faces a possible maximum sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three (3) years supervised release as to each count. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.

♢ ELAINE L. MULLONE, age 63, a resident of Houston, Texas, was charged in a three-count bill of information with theft of government funds. According to the bill, the defendant's primary residence was in Houston, Texas, at the time Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. Following the hurricane, she falsely represented that her property in Madisonville, LA, was her primary residence when she applied for grants from FEMA, the SBA, and the Louisiana Road Home Program. According to the bill, MULLONE received approximately $395,000 in government benefits from these programs to which she was not entitled. The defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000.00, three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and the forfeiture of her Madisonville property. The case was investigated by agents from the Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of the Inspector General, the Small Business Administration - Office of the Inspector General,, the Department of Homeland Security - Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Loan "Mimi" Nguyen.

♢ PATRICIA A. BOWMAN, age 54, a resident of Marrero, Louisiana, was indicted in a one-count indictment for making a material false statement to FEMA. It is alleged that BOWMAN falsely represented on her application for disaster assistance that she resided at 139 Morgan Court, Westwego, Louisiana, and had evacuated from that address when Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005. According to the indictment, BOWMAN was living in the 2400 block of Claire Avenue in Gretna, Louisiana at the time and did not evacuate. Based on her application, BOWMAN fraudulently received $2000. If convicted, BOWMAN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy Manning Taylor.

♢ HUBERT JOSEPH SENTINO, JR. , age 48, a resident of New Orleans, LA, was charged in a one-count bill of information with theft of government funds. According to the bill, the defendant sold his home in early 2005 and moved in with his in-laws. He had just finished building rental units on property owned by his in-laws and attempted to purchase the property on the Friday before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It is alleged that the defendant filed a fraudulent application with the Louisiana Road Home Program declaring the damaged rental property was his primary residency and home on August 29, 2005, and as a result, received $61,000 in Road Home grant funds to which he was not entitled. If convicted, SENTINO faces a maximum sentence of ten (10) years in prison, a $250,000.00 fine, and a three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. The case was investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Marvin Opotowsky.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross made disaster assistance money of up to $1,565 available to those affected by the hurricanes of 2005 on a one-time only basis. The following defendants have been charged separately with falsely representing to the Red Cross they had not received assistance in the past, when they had in fact applied for and received "one-time" assistance payments on multiple occasions. If convicted, each defendant faces a possible maximum term of twenty (20) years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three (3) years of supervised release as well as restitution to the American Red Cross.

♢ KEITH WATSON, age 55, a resident of Slidell, LA, was charged with wire fraud in a one-count indictment. According to the indictment, WATSON presented himself to different American Red Cross assistance centers on nine (9) occasions from September, 2005 to October, 2005, and based on his applications, fraudulently obtained received $12,520. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans.

♢ GEORGIA MOORE BROWN, age 28, a resident of Hammond, LA, was charged with wire fraud today in a one-count bill of information. According to the bill, BROWN presented herself to different American Red Cross assistance centers on five (5) occasions from September, 2005 to October, 2005, and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $4,155. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans.

♢ TASHIBA CLOY, age 32, a resident of Hammond, LA, was charged with wire fraud today in a one-count bill of information. According to the bill, CLOY presented herself to different American Red Cross assistance centers on four (4) occasions from September 2005 to October 2005, and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $3,495. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans.

♢ LESHEA HANIBLE, age 33, a resident of Hammond, LA, was charged with wire fraud in a one-count indictment. According to the indictment, HANIBLE presented herself to the the American Red Cross on five (5) occasions from September, 2005 to October, 2005, and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained received $5,960. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans.

♢ NADINE TILLIS, age 49, a resident of Hammond, LA, was charged with wire fraud today in a one-count bill of information. According to the bill, TILLIS presented herself to different American Red Cross assistance centers on four (4) occasions from September, 2005 and October, 2005, and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $4,395. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Julia Evans.

♢ PORSHA HARRISON, age 23, a resident of Hammond, LA, was charged with mail fraud in a one-count indictment. According to indictment, HARRISON presented herself to the American Red Cross on six (6) occasions during a four (4) week period in the fall of 2005 and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $4,765. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Spiro Latsis.

♢ ASHLEY HARRISON, age 28, a resident of Hammond, LA was charged with wire fraud in a one-count indictment. According to the indictment, HARRISON presented herself to the American Red Cross on four (4) occasions during a four (4) week period in the fall of 2005 and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $3,495. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Spiro Latsis.

♢ CYNTHIA BERRY, age 50, a resident of Hammond, LA was charged with wire fraud in a one-count indictment. According to the indictment, BERRY presented herself to the American Red Cross on three (3) occasions during a four (4) week period in the fall of 2005 and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $4,335. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Spiro Latsis.

♢ JUAN OWENS, age 44, a resident of Ponchatoula, LA, was charged on August 20, 2010 with mail fraud in a one-count indictment. According to the indictment, OWENS presented himself to the American Red Cross on ten (10) occasions during a six (6) week period in the fall of 2005 and based on his applications, fraudulent obtained $13,480. This case was investigated by the U. S. Postal Inspection Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Spiro Latsis.

♢ TAMMY HICKERSON, age 43, a resident of Ponchatoula, LA was charged with wire fraud in a one-count bill of information. According to the bill, HICKERSON presented herself to the American Red Cross on ten (10) occasions during a six (6) week period in the fall of 2005 and based on her applications, fraudulently obtained $9,390. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Spiro Latsis.

♢ LAFREDA WINSTON, age 30, a resident of Hammond, LA, was charged with wire fraud in a one-count indictment. According to the indictment, WINSTON presented herself to the American Red Cross on seven (7) occasions in the fall of 2005 and based on her applications, fraudulently received $5,960. This case was investigated by the U. S. Postal Service-Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Dorothy Manning Taylor.