LaPlace woman found guilty of FEMA fraud

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012



NEW ORLEANS – A LaPlace woman accused of improperly collecting more than $28,000 in FEMA disaster assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav in 2008 has pleaded guilty to theft of government funds, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

Shanette Raquell Kennard, 33, entered her plea Wednesday at federal court in New Orleans before U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle. In March, Kennard was charged in a one-count indictment.

According to court documents, Kennard filed for emergency FEMA disaster assistance in September 2008 after Hurricane Gustav claiming she owned and was living in a mobile home on River Road in Convent that was damaged in the storm. As a result of the claim, Kennard received $28,800 from FEMA in October 2008.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, determined that the home in Convent was not Kennard’s primary residence at the time of the storm and that she did not become owner of the home until a month after the hurricane. An act of donation, dated Sept. 29, 2008, would show the trailer was donated to her by another individual.

Investigators looked at utility records for St. James Parish that indicated no utilities were on at the Convent home on Sept. 1, 2008. A copy of Kennard’s driver’s license showed her address as 2136 Pebble Beach Drive, LaPlace, according to court documents.

On Oct. 6, 2011, an agent from the Office of Inspector General interviewed Kennard at her home in LaPlace, where she provided a voluntary oral and written confession, according to the release.

Kennard faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $25,000 fine and three years of supervised release following any jail sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 8.