Bridge City woman guilty of hurricane-related fraud - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Bridge City woman guilty of hurricane-related fraud

Released by the U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of Texas:

BEAUMONT, TX - U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that a 48-year-old Bridge City, Texas woman has pleaded guilty to hurricane-related fraud in the Eastern District of Texas. 

SHEILA M. BRACK pleaded guilty to making a false statement today before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark. 

According to information from prosecutors, Brack knowingly submitted an application to FEMA for disaster assistance falsely claiming that her primary residence in Bridge City, Texas had sustained damage from Hurricane Ike, rendering it unlivable, and that the hurricane had also caused damage to her personal property.  In fact, the address Brack gave to FEMA was not her primary residence immediately before or during Hurricane Ike.  An investigation revealed that Brack was living at a different location than the address she claimed and that the Bridge City residence had the utilities disconnected for a year before Hurricane Ike made landfall.  Brack received $28,800 in disaster assistance from FEMA based on her false statement.  A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment on Nov. 18, 2009 charging Brack with hurricane-related fraud.

Brack faces up to 5 years in federal prison.  A sentencing date has not been set.

In September 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud.  The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force includes members of the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, among others.

This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Peacock.

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