Lake Charles Woman Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud in Connection with Deepwater Horizon Claims Scheme
LAKE CHARLES, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a Lake Charles woman pleaded guilty Thursday to mail fraud for a scheme to use a seafood restaurant’s employee records to file false Deepwater Horizon settlement claims.
Yvette Kocik, 43, of Lake Charles, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi to one count of mail fraud. According to the guilty plea, Kocik approached current and former employees of Steamboat Bill’s seafood restaurant of Lake Charles asking them to use their employee documents so she could file claims on their behalf as part of the Deepwater Horizon BP spill of April 20, 2010. Kocik’s mother owns Steamboat Bill’s, and Kocik performs bookkeeping services for the company. She used the employee documents to fill out forms mailed to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility stating they lost earnings and work hours because of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill when they had not. She kept a portion of the proceeds awarded to the employees. The employees received $104,655 for more than 10 claims filed in the course of the scheme, which took place beginning in 2010 to December of 2013.
Kocik faces up to 20 years in prison, one to three years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution. A sentencing date of October 22, 2015 was set.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly P. Uebinger and Robert F. Moore are prosecuting the case.