GULFPORT, Miss. — Two people have been sentenced to prison after
they were found to defraud the Deepwater Horizon spill fund.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Mississippi
recently said that Thi Houng Le, also known as Kristy Le, age 34, of
Pascagoula, and Gregory P. Warren, 52, of Lafayette, Louisiana, had
been sentenced for conspiracy to commit identity theft, mail fraud
and wire fraud in connection with a lawsuit against BP.
Le received a sentence of 84 months in federal prison followed by
three years of supervised release, as well as orders to pay a fine of
$25,000. Warren received a sentence of 204 months in federal prison
with three years of supervised release and a fine of $25,000.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of
Mississippi, the two defendants colluded with each other to defraud
countless victims from several states and the BP Gulf Coast Claims
Facility. They did so by “obtaining names, addresses, dates of
birth, and Social Security numbers to create 'clients' for
anticipated litigation” as a consequence of the 2010 Deepwater
Horizon Oil Spill, according to the office's news release.
The defendants are alleged to have fraudulently submitted the
names of more than 40,000 individuals as plaintiffs in litigation
linked to the oil spill, knowing that the individuals on the list had
not consented to be represented by the law firm. Le and Warren also
were accused of submitting stolen and fake Social Security numbers,
dates of birth, addresses, and occupations.
Since the oil spill, there have been numerous lawsuits filed
against individuals attempting to fraudulently deceive the Deepwater
Horizon spill fund.
On Dec. 6, 2016, a Key West, Florida resident was ordered to pay
more than $600,000 in restitution for allegedly filing fraudulent claims
connected to the spill. The
U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida stated that
51-year-old Caridad Rioseco Alejandrez received a sentence of 48
months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The
restitution payment was ordered to reflect the actual losses suffered
by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility trust fund because of her false
claims, the news release said.
According to a report from the Financial
Times, since last September, data released by the U.S. Department
of Justice revealed that 311 people had been convicted from making
fraudulent oil-spill claims against BP; of that number, 102 have been
sent to prison. The research found that seven of those individuals
received five years or more in jail, with one of them sentenced to 15
Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP has paid out millions of
dollars in compensation claims. However, during 2013-14, the
Financial Times report
said that BP waged a public campaign against what its described as
“outrageous” claims, stating that “what’s happening to BP is
bad for American business.”
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded
on April 20, 2010, claiming the lives of 11 workers. The subsequent
spill from the uncapped well resulted in around 5 million barrels of
oil spilling into the Gulf, according to a report