The Louisiana floods of last year seem almost like a distant memory when we think about Harvey, Irma, and Maria this year, with yet another tropical storm making its way toward the US. But these devastating flood waters that affect many parishes in the state, claimed the lives of more than a dozen people and wreaked untold havoc on the community, where the damage to property was easily in the millions of dollars.
In order to recover as quickly as humanly possible, during a time when the state was attempting to dole out the recovery effort funds through FEMA and other private organizations, Louisiana State Attorney General Jeff Landry had his staff focus on fraudulent claims that might slow down the process of funds reaching damaged areas that actually required legitimate assistance. He even set up a GoFundMe site for donations to be funneled directly to the recipients of the funding who needed it most.
In the interim, the authorities caught up with Joe Jones, a Louisiana resident who has now admitted to stealing FEMA funding and equipment to the tune of over $13K! By claiming a property to be his own, he ended up receiving funds that were, by rights, supposed to go to the ACTUAL homeowner!
The Daily Caller:
A Louisiana man has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relief funds intended for victims of the state’s catastrophic 2016 flood season.
Baton Rouge resident Joe W. Jones, 65, pleaded guilty to stealing the $13,806 Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. U.S. Attorney Corey Amundson is charging Jones with filing a fraudulent disaster relief claim after he claimed that one of his flooded properties was his primary residence. In reality, Jones was renting the property out at the time of the storms, and his own claims caused the more immediate claim of the current tenants to be delayed.
The historic flooding in Louisiana decimated approximately 20 parishes and damaged 40,000 homes in 2016, with a death toll in the double digits.
“Louisiana is experiencing monumental devastation and tragedy,” Landry said. “We are grateful for the efforts of GoFundMe to make sure donations benefit our struggling neighbors — not fraudulent individuals or organizations.”
A judge has yet to schedule a sentencing hearing for Jones.
With the gargantuan amount of fraud that was committed against the American taxpayer and the federal government during the Katrina disaster in New Orleans where everything from pornography to new phones were being purchased through the funding that was given to victims in the form of ATM cards, it is heartening to know that the amount of vigilance against this type of fraud has been heightened.
During the first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency, he has been tested in the realm of natural disasters, what with Houston, Miami and Puerto Rico. The response of the federal government and its ability (especially in Puerto Rico) to get vital supplies to areas that were hardest hit and not very accessible is a testament to the men and women who work on behalf of disaster relief. As well, the National Guard requires our thanks. Kudos to AG Landry for his watchdog mentality in catching this criminal!
Source: The Daily Caller