Woman From New Iberia Pleads Guilty To Stealing From FEMA In Housing Scheme
43-year-old Jacqueline Marie Benjamin has pleaded guilty to illegally taking thousands of dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says Jacqueline admitted to filing false claims for hurricane damage supposedly happening as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. According to court documents, Jacqueline and her sister-in-law Valerie received the money by pretending that the supposedly damaged property was unlivable, when in fact it was minor and had not been moved out of like it was claimed. (Jacqueline Benjamin Court Press Release)
In 2005, Finley says Valerie claimed she was forced to move off of some property as a result of Katrina and Rita. Court documents say she listed her new home in New Iberia as a rental property and listed Jacqueline as her landlord when she was not. Jacqueline admitted to getting four checks for storm damage losses, taking $200 out of each check and then paying Valerie.
Then, in 2008, Jacqueline admitted to giving Valerie permission to file FEMA disaster assistance applications in her name, saying Jacqueline had to move out of her home because of storm damage. Court documents says the application also contained false landlord statements, false medical bills, false medical bill receipts, false
insurance statements, false rental agreements, and false rental receipts. Jacqueline admitted that she never left her home, and the home sustained only minor damage. Finley says Jacqueline then received four checks for storm damage losses, taking $200 out of each check and paying Valerie Benjamin.
Jacqueline Benjamin faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000. Sentencing has not been scheduled yet. There's been no word on if Valerie is being charged in the case.