Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Hampstead woman sentenced for disaster fraud

During Hurricane Florence, flooded waters from Fishing Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River, washed out a four-lane portion of road on Highway 421 north of Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy North Carolina Department of Transportation)
During Hurricane Florence, flooded waters from Fishing Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River, washed out a four-lane portion of road on Highway 421 north of Wilmington. (Port City Daily/Courtesy North Carolina Department of Transportation)

HAMPSTEAD — A Hampstead woman is headed to prison after being found guilty of Fraud.

Dishawn Batts pled guilty of disaster fraud on Nov. 17 and sentenced Wednesday. She will serve 12 months and one day in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Her crime was claiming

Batts falsely claimed she was displaced by Hurricane Florence in 2018. She submitted claims for rental assistance, including falsified lease agreements, rental receipts, utility records and social security records

As part of the judgment, Batts was also ordered to pay $24,835.50 in criminal restitution to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This defendant schemed to steal from a taxpayer-funded program that was intended to help displaced families recover from a natural disaster by providing necessary housing and utility assistance,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Now, she will be housed in a federal prison and required to repay every penny she stole.”

Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, Joseph V. Cuffari, said, “I appreciate the continued partnership between DHS OIG and the Justice Department.  Defrauding the U.S. government is unconscionable.  This guilty plea should serve as a deterrent to individuals intent on fleecing our federal system.”

According to court documents and other information presented in court, in an application for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance, Batts claimed she had been displaced by Hurricane Florence and was living in a temporary rental. Her initial application was approved, and Batts was awarded funds for personal property damage and two months of rental assistance.

Batts received $24,835.50 in assistance for which she did not qualify and will be required to pay that amount back.


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