NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans woman has become the latest person to be criminally convicted for filing a fraudulent Deepwater Horizon claim.
Tanesha D. Summers, 38, of New Orleans, has been sentenced to five years probation and ordered to repay $95,847.19 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud by defrauding the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) through the filing of a false claim.
According to U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite’s office, Summers, and her unnamed co-conspirators, falsely claimed to have worked in the commercial fishing industry when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred. Summers admitted to creating claims forms using fraudulent and false information that netted the group more than $134,000.
Summers joins the growing ranks of several other claimants who have been caught forging and falsifying documents provided to the GCCF that resulted in large claim payments for damages they never experienced. According to BP’s State of the Gulf website, 235 claimants living in 10 states have been charged for claims fraud and 177 have been convicted thus far comprising more than $15 million in fraudulently paid claims.
Most notably, in October 2014 Slidell-based shrimper Casey Thonn pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud concerning false tax documents he filed in order to secure a Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thonn’s claim was also connected to an alleged kickback scheme involving an attorney working in the Court Supervise Settlement Program, the successor of GCCF, and the AndryLerner law firm that was created to handle such claims. Thonn is set to be sentenced on Jan. 28.
The criminal case was brought in the United States Eastern District Court Eastern District of Louisiana and overseen by U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle.