Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Orleans Husband and Wife Charged with Stealing Over $200,000 in Katrina-Related Fraud

June 22, 2010 - ROBERT WALLACE, age 49, and CHRESSYE WALLACE, age 43, both of New Orleans, Louisiana, were charged today in a three-count Bill of Information for theft of government funds, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

According to the Bill of Information, in 1999, ROBERT and CHRESSYE WALLACE purchased a home located on N. Roman St., New Orleans, Louisiana. In August, 2004, the house was totally destroyed by a fire and was never rebuilt. They also owned a home located on St. Roch Street, as well as a third home located on Nevada Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. At the time Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area, the WALLACES were living at the home on Nevada Street.

After Hurricane Katrina, ROBERT WALLACE submitted a claim to the National Flood Insurance Program, alleging that his house on N. Roman Street had been flooded by over four feet of water. As a result of this application, and other, similar representations, ROBERT WALLACE received $72,200 in federal funds.

ROBERT WALLACE also filed an application for Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan assistance representing that his property on St. Roch Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, was his primary residence on August 29, 2005. As a result of these representations, it is alleged that ROBERT WALLACE received $50,000.00 from the SBA, for which he was not entitled.

It is also alleged that from November, 2006 through January, 2009, CHRESSYE WALLACE submitted a series of documents to the Louisiana Road Home Program, fraudulently claiming that she was living at the house located on St. Roch Street at the time of the storm. As a result of these representations, CHRESSYE WALLACE obtained $150,000 in HUD Community Development Block Grant money.

If convicted, ROBERT WALLACE and CHRESSYE WALLACE face a maximum of ten (10) years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three (3) years' supervised release as to each count.

U.S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of the Inspector General, the Small Business Administration-Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.

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