NEW ORLEANS – A group of shrimpers and associated seafood companies they operate are accused of filing a series of fraudulent Deepwater Horizon claims worth $2.3 million, according to document filed last week by court officers.
Special investigator Louis Freeh and claims administrator Patrick Juneau have filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s court requesting Gulf Finest Investment Co., LVS Investment Group, Sinh Tran, Christine Ho and Ngoc Lam return $2,365,396.72 they received after filing fraudulent claims.
The claimants are accused of providing trip tickets for three vessels, Sir Lawrence, the Capt T and Lady Kathleen, purportedly provided by Port Arthur, Texas-based Titan Seafood Company.
“None of the Titan trip tickets submitted by the claimants are contained in the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department trip ticket records,” the motion says.
Juneau and Freeh allege in their motion that the trip tickets were dated after Titan Seafood Company had been shuttered on April 10, 2009 after its owner, Victor Tran ,was jailed for fraudulently obtaining Hurricane Rita relief funds. Other trip tickets filed by Ngoc Lam on behalf of his vessel Lady Kathleen were found to be forgeries that misspelled Port Arthur as “Port Arther” in addition to including other errors.
The motion further says Christine Ho, who claimed she was the captain of the Sir Lawrence shrimping vessel, filed tax documents with the Deepwater Horizon claims center stating that all of her income for the benchmark period came from operating a nail salon.
“Taking the evidence as a whole makes clear that the claimants submitted hard copy trip tickets that are not genuine and do not accurately reflect their shrimping revenue. The claimants should make restitution to the DHECC so as to make the DHECC whole, deprive these companies of an unjust enrichment and deter others from engaging in similar misconduct,” the motion says.
Faegre Baker Daniels, who repaid the Deepwater Horizon center $591,349.19 in legal fees, was responsible for filing the disputed claims.
Titan Seafood Company was owned by Victor Tran who was named by Juneau and Freeh in a separate clawback worth $3.16 million filed with the court in late May. In that claim, which was also handled by Faegre Baker Daniels, Tran received payment for false damage claims he made on behalf of two other seafood processing companies he owned, Alliance & Associates LLC and Crystal Seafood Company.
Notably, Sinh Tran, the captain of the Capt T vessel, is Victor Tran’s brother as well as being listed as an officer of Titan Seafood Company. The Lady Kathleen, owned by claimant Ngoc Lam, was named in a separate $249,501.78 captain’s claim filed by Christopher Tran, older brother to Sinh and Victor Tran, that has been put on hold.
This brings the number of clawbacks of Faegre Bakers Daniels’ clients to five, which is far more than any other law firm handling claims.