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Georgia woman charged in alleged $156 million hurricane disaster relief fraud

The 43-year-old woman took advantage of Puerto Ricans in 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Credit: Aerial Mike - stock.adobe.com

ATLANTA — A federal grand jury charged a 43-year-old Atlanta woman in defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Department of Justice said.

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Puerto Rico. 

FEMA sought vendors to provide self-heating meals per week to the island.

The agency did business with the woman and her company and gave her a $156 million contract to provide 30 million self-heating meals to Puerto Rico’s residents after the hurricane.

The department claims that residents didn’t receive any self-heating meals, instead they only received meals they could not heat themselves. 

“The residents of Puerto Rico were depending on and expecting the very best from its federal government during this unprecedented disaster,“ U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said.

She also plagiarized the proposal she pitched to the federal government to help her receive the funds, according to the department. 

FEMA claims the woman also lied about the timing of deliveries and status of suppliers by using false documents. 

On October 19, 2017, FEMA ended its contract with the woman and her company. After the contract ended, she allegedly attempted to lie to FEMA to secure more payments from the agency.

The federal judge charged her with 11 counts of major disaster fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government money and three counts of money laundering.

She is currently awaiting trial where she could serve time for the charges.

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