Anywhere that there is a government program, you can be assured that there will be abuse and fraud…
Feds say woman filed fraudulent claim for Galveston home
By RUTH RENDON Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Sept. 30, 2008, 3:46PM
A Houston woman appeared in court today after being charged with filing multiple fraudulent claims for federal disaster assistance during hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.
Phyllis Ann Taylor, 28, is the first person charged in the area with fraud in connection with Hurricane Ike and the 86th charged in connection with hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
When U.S. Magistrate Judge Calvin Botley asked Taylor during Tuesday’s hearing if she understood the accusations against her, Taylor cried and answered, “Yes, sir.”
Botley ordered Taylor to remain in jail, where she has been since her arrest Monday afternoon at her Houston home. She is scheduled to appear in court for a detention hearing and arraignment at 10 a.m. Friday.
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General and Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General arrested Taylor. A federal grand jury indicted Taylor last week.
The 16-count indictment charges Taylor with filing a false claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Hurricane Ike assistance on Sept. 13 — the day Ike made landfall. The indictment says Taylor falsely claimed a damaged residence on Pruitt Street in Galveston was her primary residence.
In one of the counts, Taylor is believed to be the first person charged under a new federal statute dealing with emergency disaster relief. If convicted of the charge, Taylor faces up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The federal indictment also alleges that in September 2005, Taylor filed a claim with FEMA for Katrina disaster assistance listing her actual primary residence at a public housing project in Marerro, La., even though Katrina did not damage that residence. Taylor then allegedly filed at least six more claims with FEMA for Katrina assistance, listing slight variations of her name, Social Security numbers belonging to others and false primary residences in New Orleans, many of which did not exist.
Taylor also is accused of filing five claims with FEMA following Hurricane Rita by listing variations of her name and others’ Social Security numbers and false primary residences in Lake Charles, La., many of which do not exist. She stands accused of obtaining multiple residences in the Houston area by filing applications with hurricane housing programs using different Social Security numbers and using those different Houston-area residences as the mailing addresses for the FEMA claims.
Taylor faces eight counts of mail fraud and seven counts of aggravated identity theft in connection with the allegedly false Katrina and Rita claims.