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Chalmette man pleads guilty to fraud on hurricane fund

A Chalmette man guilty of fraud will be spending up to 10 years in prison for fraudulently obtaining over $120,000 worth of financial assistance from the Louisiana Road Home program, a fund set aside for assistance victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The man reportedly pleaded guilty to theft of government funds on last Thursday. According to prosecutors, the man applied for funds through Louisiana's Road Home program, reporting that his home in Chalmette was his primary residence at the time Katrina came through in 2005. That information, however, was untrue. The man actually lived in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane. As a result of his application, the man fraudulently received $123,437 from the Road Home program.

Louisiana's Road Home program, by its own description, it designed to compensate Louisiana homeowners affected by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita for damage to their homes. The program offers assistance to homeowners, small-scale rental property owners, and building professionals.

Homeowners affected by the hurricanes are eligible to receive up to $150,000 worth of compensation for their losses. Compensation options include remaining in their home and working to rebuild and repair it; purchasing another home within Louisiana; or selling the home and choosing not to remain a homeowner in Louisiana. Application for the program was closed in 2007.

The Chalmette man was not the only one to engage in fraudulent activity with regard to the Road Home program. The first case of fraud on the program popped up in June 2008, when it a New Orleans woman was charge in a two-count indictment for defrauding the program.

Sentencing for the Chalmette man is set for January 12.

Source: Washington Post, "Louisiana man pleads guilty in fraud case linked to Hurricane Katrina," Oct 7, 2011.

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