New Orleans Woman Indicted for Submitting False Documents to the Road Home Program
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that DEBORAH FORTNER, age 52, of New Orleans, was indicted today for submitting false documents to the Louisiana Road Home Program (“LRHP”), a federally-funded agency.
According to the Indictment, FORTNER applied for a LRHP grant to renovate her home after Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, Fortner was awarded a $97,899 grant from the LRHP. In 2011, the LRHP contacted FORTNER to request proof of pre-storm occupancy related to her property. As a result of the request, FORTNER faxed a copy of an altered bank statement to the LRHP. The mailing address on the bank statement had been changed by FORTNER to make it appear that FORTNER was receiving mail at that property prior to Hurricane Katrina.
In 2013, the LRHP again contacted FORTNER and requested proof of occupancy related to her property. In response to LRHP’s request, FORTNER faxed a copy of a New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (“S&WB”) statement to the LRHP. The submitted S&WB document falsely contained the address of the property. The false documents were submitted by FORTNER to the LRHP in order to prove compliance with the grant covenants and to prevent FORTNER from having to pay the funds back to the LRHP.
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.
If convicted, FORTNER faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development- Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Fraud Unit Chief, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba is in charge of the prosecution.