FEDS: Florida Officials Bilked FEMA Out of Hurricane Money

Charges filed by U.S. attorney’s office.
November 25, 2019

Two former officials of a Florida city are charged with conspiring with two businesses to bilk the federal government out of $5 million in Hurricane Michael cleanup money, the U.S. attorney’s office announced.

U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe said the two former Lynn Haven officials approved false invoices for the two companies, Erosion Control Specialists and Greenleaf Lawn Care, for work they never performed. One of the companies also was paid to wrap Christmas presents, prepare a site for a Halloween party, and clean and repair the private homes of several city officials, including the mayor and city attorney, according to the indictment.

“Abusing one’s position for personal gain — especially in a time of crisis — is a blatant disregard to the oath that every government official takes,” Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said in a news release. “Federal assistance programs are established to help individuals, families, and businesses that have suffered tremendous loss, and abusing these programs is egregious.” The hurricane last year caused catastrophic damage to Bay County and surrounding areas.

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