Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Mr. Speaker, in the disturbing days following Hurricane Katrina there was much confusion and chaos and catastrophe. Isaac Carloss and his wife, Debbie Anderson, used this tragedy to take advantage of innocent victims of this hurricane. Their deceptive and lawless journey was only recently halted by the Department of Justice.

According to the DOJ, Carloss' wife, Debbie, met an evacuee at a rescue shelter following the hurricane. Since the evacuee was unable to return to his home, Debbie gave the individual permission to use her address and receive mail. The evacuee then applied for FEMA assistance, and an express mail package addressed to the evacuee was sent to Debbie's residence. Debbie signed for the package with a fictitious name, opened the mail, and started her illegal spending spree across Louisiana.

The package included two FEMA disaster assistance checks totaling over $4,000 intended for the evacuee. But Diane, Isaac and Debbie took these checks and went directly to the local car dealership where they used one of the checks to purchase a car. She then took the other check to a bank in Louisiana where she persuaded the teller to cash the check because they were victims, or she was a victim of the hurricane.

Just last week, in Louisiana, her husband, Isaac, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, one count of theft of mail and two counts of theft of public money. He faces a sentence up to 5 years in prison. His wife, Debbie, has already pleaded guilty in January to a count of conspiracy. This is just one of the many examples of the vagrants that cheated the government and the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

Six months ago, when the ladies of the gulf, Katrina and Rita, pounded the gulf coast, thousands of people were left dismayed. They were distressed and in desperate need of aid. In the days following the hurricanes FEMA quickly began disbursing money to suffering victims. However, amidst all the confusion and chaos, fraud started. Now, 6 months later and millions of dollars wasted later, the winds have subsided, but the deception continues and the shady scams are getting more disturbing every day.

According to a recent Government Accounting study, Federal investigators have learned 1,000 people who applied for aid used Social Security numbers of dead people; 1,000 used bogus, nonexistent numbers, and tens of thousands have used names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of people that did not match.

The report also found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants to receive aid under FEMA's emergency assistance program were based upon duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers or false addresses. Additionally, duplicate payments were made to some people who applied first with debit cards then again by electronic bank transfer.

The GAO reported another example where one person used 15 different Social Security numbers and received payments totaling $41,000, money he has stolen from the victims and from the taxpayers.

The corruption is chilling. With FEMA debit cards an individual in Jefferson, Louisiana, spent $1,300 on a pistol. An individual in Houston, Texas spent $1,200 at a gentleman's club with his FEMA debit card. And the list goes on: diamond engagement rings, gambling, bail bondsmen, tattoos, massages, alcohol and adult erotic products.

We also have learned that hotel rooms in New York City have cost the taxpayers $500 a night, beachfront apartments being rented in the same amounts were all paid for by FEMA, which really means paid for by other taxpayers. Reports have even surfaced about emergency meals being sold on eBay.

Legitimate, law-abiding citizens are suffering because of these disgraceful and despicable delinquents that have chosen to take advantage of this tragedy.

These criminals should be found and they should go to jail, and anyone in the Federal Government that has helped them should be