Des Allemands Woman Charged with Mail Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill
NEW ORLEANS—U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that MELISSA ANN DURAN, age 42, Des Allemands, was charged today in a one-count Indictment with mail fraud.
According to court documents, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion that occurred on April 20, 2010. The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income. On August 23, 2010, DURAN applied for disaster assistance funds, representing that she worked as seafood process for a commercial fisherman during for two years before the oil spill. However, DURAN had never worked as a seafood processor for the stated commercial fisherman, and she submitted or caused to be submitted false documentation to establish her false earnings. Based on DURAN’s fraudulent application, DURAN received approximately $33,800 to which she was not entitled.
If convicted, DURAN faces a maximum penalty of twenty years, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment.
U.S. Attorney Polite reiterated that the Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Spiro G. Latsis is in charge of the prosecution.