Hurricane Katrina evacuee blames FEMA for his parole violations

Michelle Massey Feb. 1, 2011, 3:45am


A Hurricane Katrina evacuee has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), blaming it for his parole violations, which resulted in an additional four years in prison.

Clarence Lorio filed suit Jan. 24 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the lawsuit, Lorio was convicted for distribution of cocaine in 1994 and was originally sentenced to serve 30 years in prison. After various appeals, his sentenced was reduced to 15 years. He was released from prison on March 7, 2001 due to good behavior and was subject to supervised parole until September 2008.

Lorio states that Hurricane Katrina caused New Orleans' criminal justice system to fall apart. He claims there was no way to reach parole supervisors after the storm. According to his suit, the city became dependent on FEMA for information on the location of city parolees

After the hurricane made landfall, Lorio was evacuated to a hospital in Houston then moved to a shelter followed by a church and finally to an apartment. He states he did not know who to contact regarding his parole obligations because his parole officer had quit his job and the officer's office had not reopened.

In early 2006, the Probation and Parole office contacted FEMA regarding Lorio's whereabouts. Lorio states FEMA gave the office an incorrect address, although FEMA was sending direct rental assistance payments to Lorio's landlord every month.

A parole violation warrant was issued in March 2006 and Lorio was arrested in September 2006. His parole was revoked and he was imprisoned to serve the remainder of his original 15 year sentence. He remained in prison until March 30, 2010 when he was released for good behavior. He will remain on supervised parole through 2013.

Lorio argues that FEMA's failure to provide his correct address was the only reason for the revocation of his parole.

He is seeking damages for compensation for his time spent in prison and on extended parole.

Lorio is represented by New Orleans attorneys Andrew L. Kramer and Binford E. Parker III.

U.S. District Judge A. J. McNamara is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-00154

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