Keishandra Houston Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 19, 2013|
Keishandra Houston, age 36, a resident of Slidell, Louisiana, pled guilty to wire fraud relating to an application for financial assistance in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, announced U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.
The Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) made disaster assistance money available to individuals affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income. According to court documents, in September 2010, Houston falsely represented to the GCCF that she worked as a cook at a seafood restaurant and suffered financially due to lost employment as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. To support this fraudulent claim, on September 30, 2010, Houston wired to the GCCF false earnings statements that incorrectly indicated that the she was employed by a seafood restaurant. In response to the claim, the GCCF paid Houston $5,900.
Houston faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Sentencing is set for July 25, 2013.
This case was brought as part of this District’s partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), a nationwide initiative to protect available funds and assistance for those victims of both natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and the recent Gulf oil spill. If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, you can contact the NCDF by either calling the hotline at (866) 720-5721, faxing (225) 334-4707, e-mailing at email@example.com, or writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70821-4909.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chandra Menon.