U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
(504) 680-3000
April 27, 2015

Two Abide Home Care Employees Plead Guilty to Charges Related to Filing Fraudulent Claims for Oil Spill Compensation

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that CLARA AITCH, age 39, and WENDY ERVIN, age of 42, both of New Orleans, pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday before U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan each to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to the fraudulent applications they made or caused to be made to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for financial assistance during the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

On March 12, 2015, AITCH and ERVIN were indicted along with 18 other defendants in a 26-count indictment charging approximately $30,052,295 in Medicare fraud and the BP fraud.

According to court documents, the GCCF made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income. In November, 2010, AITCH and ERVIN conspired with Lisa Crinel to apply for disaster assistance funds, and represent that they were employees of LACE, a reception hall owned and operated by Lisa Crinel, when, in truth, AITCH and ERVIN were full time employees of Abide Home Care Services, Inc.

Based on AITCH and ERVIN’S fraudulent applications, they both received approximately $2,228.58 to which they were not entitled.

AITCH and ERVIN both face a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years, a $250,000 fine, and three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment. Sentencing is set for July 29, 2015.

U.S. Attorney Polite thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrice Harris Sullivan, Sharan Lieberman and Andre Lagarde are in charge of the prosecution.

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