NEW ORLEANS – An Alabama man has been ordered to return hundreds of thousands of dollars he received in an alleged scheme to defraud the claims program in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill program.
Special master Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, filed the motion in U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s court in the Eastern District of Louisiana to demand a $240,000 claim be paid back by Jason Zirlott and his business Capt Jay LLC.
Zirlott purportedly used his 2009 income tax return for the basis of the claim he received from the Deepwater Horizon Economic Claims Center (DHECC) in which he alleged he lost income due to not being able to work as a commercial shrimper during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. However, Freeh claims that 80 percent of the income Zirlott earned in 2009 actually came from marine debris cleanup, for which he would not have been eligible for a claim, rather than commercial shrimping as he contended.
In the filing, Freeh said Zirlott was prominently featured in 2009 in a newspaper article using sonar equipment to find marine debris.
Zirlott’s former legal counsel in the case has already repaid $43,222.81 in legal fees on Oct. 3 they accepted for representing Zirlott’s claim.
Zirlott’s case is the third such in the past year in which Freeh has asked claims payments be returned to the DHECC.
Case no. 2:10-md-02179.