A Livingston man pleaded guilty to fraud after getting more than $40,000 from FEMA after the 2016 floods.
U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin, who also serves as the Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, announced Wednesday that 44-year-old Ervin Payne, Jr. pleaded guilty to fraud.
The Department of Justice said according to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, Payne submitted false applications for FEMA assistance for a Livingston residence that he did not own at the time of the March 2016 and August 2016 floods. In his applications, he also asserted that, because of the damage to the residence, he needed transportation and rental assistance. He received a total of $42,365.31 in assistance.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Federal disaster assistance funds are available and owed to individuals affected by a disaster, and who meet the eligibility criteria to receive specific benefits available from the Government. Assistance is designed to return eligible applicants to the lives they lived before being victimized by disaster. Fraud in connection with disaster benefits not only results in wasting valuable government assets to process false claims and monetary loss to FEMA; it also delays the distribution of funds to authorized disaster victims. My office, together with the National Center for Disaster Fraud and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, will continue to hold accountable those who seek to steal disaster assistance funds and impair the Federal Government’s ability to assist true victims of a disaster.”
As a result of his conviction, Payne faces a significant term of imprisonment, fine, and period of supervised release.
If you suspect fraud involving disaster relief efforts, or believe you have been the victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, contact the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at (866) 720-5721. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week