NEW ORLEANS — Kevin Richard, 26, of New Orleans recently pled guilty to engaging in mail fraud, admitting to submitting a fraudulent application for disaster assistance money in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite praised the work of the U.S. Secret Service in investigating Richard’s claims and fraudulent activity, which included receiving $26,000 in disaster assistance money.
The Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010. The GCCF offered multiple types of claims related to the incident for which it would issue payment.
“One of the types of claims offered by the GCCF was a ‘Quick Payment Final Claim,’ which provided that a claimant who had received a prior EAP or Interim Payment from GCCF could receive, without further documentation of losses caused by the BP oil spill, a one-time final payment of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses,” a report from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Furthermore, those seeking a Quick Payment were required to submit with their claim a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue.”
The DOJ report also addressed how claimants were eligible for a quick payment.
“To be eligible to receive funds via a Quick Payment Final Claim, an applicant had to previously submit a successful (i.e., paid) initial claim containing proof of costs, damages, and other losses incurred as a result of the oil discharges due to the Deepwater Horizon incident,” the DOJ report said.
Richard applied for disaster assistance funds on Nov. 3, 2010, allegedly saying that he worked as a cook for New Orleans Paddlewheels Inc. at the time of the oil spill, court documents said. He included in his initial claim application six earning statements and one W-2 form to show proof that he earned approximately $57,000 from the Paddlewheels job.
Later, however, the company allegedly provided information that revealed it had never employed Richard.
“As a result of this, and other, fraudulent representations, the GCCF sent a check in the amount of $21,000.00 to Richard,” court documents said. “Subsequently, on January 3, 2011, Richard completed, signed and mailed to the GCCF a Quick Payment Final Claim Form seeking an additional payment of $5,000, which the GCCF issued on January 14, 2011.”
Based on his admission of guilt, Richard could face up to 20 years in jail, followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon for the Eastern District of Louisiana set sentencing of Richard for Oct. 27.