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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mississippi Man Arrested For Hurricane Katrina Fraud

Paul Ladner, of Pass Christian, Miss., waived arraignment yesterday on charges of making false statements to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Hurricane Katrina disaster assistance funds, as well as wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton of the Southern District of Mississippi announced.

Ladner was indicted on Dec. 5, 2006 for receiving over $14,000 from Federal Emergency
Management Agency by providing a false address in Pass Christian, Miss., and claiming hurricane damage at that address.

The case has been set for trial on March 5, before U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. If convicted, Ladner faces up to 60 years in prison and up to $1,250,000 in fines.

In September 2005, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales created the national Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, includes members from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the Postal Inspector's Office and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, among others.

Hurricane laid waste to the city of New Orleans, areas of Mississippi and other regions of the Gulf Coast in 2005. The government response to Katrina was much criticized. The head of FEMA was forced to step aside after the storm.

Pursuant to the Justice Department initiative, a local Katrina Fraud Task Force, consisting of over 20 federal and state law enforcement agencies, was formed in the Southern District of Mississippi to pursue and prosecute individuals who engage in fraud associated with the hurricanes.

If anyone has information concerning possible fraud being committed during the post-Katrina recovery effort, please call either the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or the FBI Fraud Hotline at 1-800-225-5324.

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