Saturday, September 10, 2005

Looters in New Orleans

These look like a couple of the real looters and maybe explains why the levees didn't work quit the way planned for. From DOJ's site.
THREE STATE OFFICIALS INDICTED FOR OBSTRUCTING FEDERAL AUDIT

Shreveport, Louisiana . . . A federal grand jury has returned two separate indictments charging three members of the State Military Department with offenses related to the obstruction of an audit of the use of federal funds for flood mitigation activities throughout Louisiana, United States Attorney Donald W. Washington announced today.

Two of the individuals charged, MICHAEL C. APPE, 51, of Mandeville, Louisiana, and MICHAEL L. BROWN, 61, of St. Francisville, Louisiana, are senior employees of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Both APPE and BROWN are charged with conspiracy to obstruct a federal audit; BROWN is additionally charged with making a false statement.

The Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is designed to fund mitigation projects to prevent future flood losses or flood claims made upon the National Flood Insurance Program. BROWN was responsible for overall management the program in Louisiana; APPE was responsible for managing employees who perform fiscal transactions regarding these funds.

The indictment alleges that during an audit of the program being conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General, a State Military Department employee realized that $175,000 in expenditures of federal monies was improper in that the money was not used for purposes authorized by the federal program and would therefore have to be re-paid to the federal government. This employee notified APPE, who in turn directed the employee to provide false documents to the federal auditors.

Specifically, the indictment alleges that APPE directed an employee to contact an assistant to BROWN and have them prepare a false, backdated memo to make it appear that the expenditures were proper. The false document was created and was subsequently signed by BROWN. APPE and BROWN then sent the false, backdated memo to federal auditors. The indictment alleges that BROWN told federal auditors that he signed the document in May 2000, when in fact he knew he had signed the document in January 2004.

Also indicted was DANIEL J. FALANGA, 53, of Folsom, Louisiana, for committing perjury before a federal grand jury. FALANGA was an employee of the State Military Department in charge of the State Mitigation Office. The indictment charges him with testifying falsely before the grand jury concerning his access to a “repetitive loss list.” The repetitive loss list is a listing of properties that have suffered two or more flood losses in a ten year period.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Defendants are entitled to a presumption of innocence under the law, and the government has the burden of proving every element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sentencing in federal court is governed by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, actual sentences are based upon a formula that
takes into account the severity and characteristics of the offense, and a defendant’s criminal history, if any. Parole has been abolished in the federal system.

If convicted, APPE and BROWN face a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, on each count. If convicted, FALANGA will face a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

This case was investigated by Department of Homeland Security, Office
of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney
Alexander C. Van Hook.

For further information, please contact United States Attorney Donald W. Washington at 337-262-6618 or First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan at 318-676-3600.

This and other press releases issued by the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana can be found at our website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/law.

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