Posted: Jun 28, 2010 7:15 PM by Chris Welty
Updated: Jun 28, 2010 7:15 PM
ATLANTA (AP) - A Georgia man pleaded guilty Monday to charges
that he bilked the government out of more than $30,000 by claiming
he suffered through three devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes, a
tornado in Indiana and flooding in New Hampshire - all while living
Prosecutors charged Desima James, 30, with filling more than 30
false claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in five
states from September to December 2005 from his metro Atlanta home.
James, 30, faces a 20-year prison sentence and a fine of
$250,000 after he pleaded guilty to a mail fraud charge.
"He filed over 30 fraudulent claims with FEMA, using different
names, fake social security numbers, and various addresses to
escape detection and steal over $30,000 in disaster relief that was
intended for real victims," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian
Yates. "He now faces federal prison for his dishonesty and
Dozens of people have faced charges of defrauding the government
in the aftermath of storms such as Hurricane Katrina, which
pummeled New Orleans in August 2005. And some stole far more money
than James is accused of receiving.
But authorities say few scam artists were as prolific as James,
who is accused of using a variety of fake addresses, names and
Social Security numbers and received 15 checks in all. Prosecutors
said many of the man's claims went through FEMA's toll-free hot
line, and he fooled administrators by using different information
for each one.
James actually lived in a New Orleans apartment when Katrina
struck, and filed a claim, but FEMA denied it because his place
sustained very little damage, prosecutors said. After the storm, he
came to Atlanta and officials said he filed a new round of
Katrina-related claims under phony addresses.
He also reported he was a victim of Hurricane Rita in Beaumont,
Texas, and claimed to have suffered through Hurricane Wilma in
Florida; strong storms and flooding in New Hampshire; and a tornado
and severe storms in Indiana, investigators said.