U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
(504) 680-3000
April 29, 2015

Slidell Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Gulf Coast Claims Facility

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that RONALD BACKES, age 48, of Slidell, pled guilty today to wire fraud relating to an application for financial assistance in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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 August and September 2010, BACKES falsely represented to the GCCF that he earned $156,000 annually from a shrimping business and that another individual earned $36,000 annually as BACKES’s employee. To support these claims,BACKES created and submitted to the GCCF false receipts of shrimp sales. As a result of BACKES’s conduct, GCCF issued checks totaling $192,000.

BACKES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle set sentencing for August 19, 2015.

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 disaster@leo.gov e-mail links icon or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.

U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chandra Menon is in charge of this prosecution.

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