Kyle Barnett Mar. 17, 2015, 7:04am


NEW ORLEANS – Two St. Tammany Parish residents were recently sentenced for their roles in defrauding the Deepwater Horizon claims center in which they claimed to have lost wages as fisherman, but were found to have never been employed in the seafood industry.

Slidell residents Ramona Hudson, 52, and Darrell Morris, 55, were both sentenced last Thursday for conspiracy to defraud the Deepwater Horizon settlement fund.

Hudson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk to four years probation and six month of house arrest in addition to being required to pay back $75,000. Morris was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown to three years probation and ordered to pay back $40,000.

Both Hudson and Morris were accused of filing electronic claims forms with false information and submitting them as Deepwater Horizon claims. According to the Department of Justice, both Hudson and Morris claimed they were employed in commercial fishing when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in 2010, when they actually were not, and as a result received wrongful claims for lost wages.

The convictions are just the latest in a growing number of fraud cases stemming from the Deepwater Horizon settlement.

According to the “Fraud Tally” provided by the BP-sponsored website, www.thestateofthegulf.com, 246 people in 11 states have been charged criminally with attempting to defraud the Deepwater Horizon fund for combined a total of $19,942,626.

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