Birmingham Woman Pleads Guilty to Disaster Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 18, 2011|
BIRMINGHAM—A Birmingham woman who falsely claimed she lost her home, her father, and her infant daughter in the April 27 tornadoes pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to making a false statement to the government, 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 J. Maley.
LIBRA NIKOSHA GREEN, 31, entered her plea before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn. Green acknowledged in a plea agreement with the government that she telephoned the Federal Emergency Management Agency on May 2 and, in an attempt to gain disaster benefits, falsely told a FEMA representative that she lived in a house on Cherry Avenue that was destroyed by a tornado and that the tornado killed her father and daughter. According to the plea agreement, Green’s father had died in February, she did not live in the Cherry Avenue house, and the tornado did not kill her daughter.
“This defendant is the first to plead guilty to fraud in an attempt to take disaster money intended for the thousands of real victims of the April tornadoes across Alabama,” Vance said. “My office will continue to prosecute even small cases of fraud related to disaster benefits. We want to deter fraud and punish the people willing to commit crimes in order to take money intended to help tornado survivors,” Vance said.
No sentencing date has been set for Green. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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.
The FBI and DHS-OIG investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Borton is prosecuting it.